Immunizations play an essential role in keeping you well at every stage of your life—not just when you are a child. In fact, adults are 100 times more likely to die from vaccine-preventable diseases than children.
Over the course of your adult life, the types of immunizations you need will change and evolve. Depending on factors such as your age, general health, lifestyle, profession, and travel plans, your Carilion primary care provider may recommend the following vaccinations:
Influenza (Flu). Even for healthy adults, a bout of the flu can mean days in bed with a fever, aches and pains, and a severe cough. If you’re at high risk for complications—if you’re pregnant, age 50 or older, have a chronic health condition, or are a healthcare worker—influenza can be life-threatening and flu shots are a must. An annual vaccination each fall helps prevent this potentially deadly virus.
Pneumococcal Infections (Pneumonia). Pneumonia can infect your lungs, bloodstream and brain. It causes 15,000 deaths each year in the US. A single shot protects you against pneumonia. If you're over 65 and your pneumonia vaccination was more than five years ago, ask your primary care provider about a booster.
Tetanus-Diphtheria. Tetanus and Diphtheria are life-threatening infections. Adults need a one-dose “booster” every 10 years.
Chicken Pox (Varicella). A relatively mild illness in kids, chicken pox can be very serious if you come down with it as an adult. If you did not get chicken pox or a chicken pox vaccination as a child, see your Carilion primary care provider to get immunized against this disease that can be deadly to adults.
Measles, Mumps & Rubella. If you never had these diseases as a child and have not been immunized against them, talk with your primary care provider. They are highly contagious and have serious complications for adults. One series of two shots protects you.
Meningococcal Vaccine. The meningococcal vaccine protects you against meningitis, a deadly disease that affects the lining around the brain or spinal cord. Talk to your Carilion PCP about getting this vaccine if you live in a dorm as a college freshman; work with meningococcal bacteria in a lab; are in the military; or travel to countries where meningococcal disease is common, such as certain parts of Africa.
HPV Vaccine. This vaccine provides protection against the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted virus. The HPV vaccine reduces women’s risk of developing cervical cancer and genital warts by 70 to 80 percent. If you are a non-monogamous, sexually active woman, a series of three shots provides long-lasting immunity.
Immunizations When You’re at Risk
Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B are viruses that infect your liver. The CDC recommends immunization against these viruses for people who are at risk or are in contact with people at risk. Those at risk include healthcare workers, non-monogamous sexually active adults, intravenous drug users, international travelers, immigrants, and Alaskan natives. Other persons may also be at risk—talk with your primary care provider to determine if you are one of them.
If you are planning international travel, ask your Carilion PCP if your destination requires immunizations for infectious diseases common to that area.