|The Top 5 Adult Vaccinations
Dr. Ranit Mishori, Georgetown University
Hospital resident, recently published an
article about the Top 5 Adult Vaccines
eligible Americans should receive. The
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) recently released survey results
indicating that only 2% of Americans under
the age of 64 have received adult vaccines
against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis
(commonly known as "whooping cough").
The new shingles vaccine has also been
virtually ignored by American adults. In spite
of an aggressive public awareness
campaign, only 10% of eligible women have
received vaccines against HPV, a cerivical
Vaccinations are one of the simplest and most cost-effective methods for maintaining an
optimum level of health and wellness. All adults should look into receiving the following
The Shingles Vaccine
Herpes zoster, popularly known as shingles, is a disease affecting adults over 60 who have had
chicken pox. Reactivating in later life, shingles' signature rash can be extremely painful; even
after the rash fades away, residual episodes of intense pain can linger for months. The
Shingles Vaccine could eliminate about 280,000 shingles cases each and every year.
Twenty-three (23) strains of bacterial pneumonia cause over 40,000 U.S. deaths each year.
The pneumo-coccal polysaccharide (PPV) vaccine protects against these and some additional
bacterial blood infections. The PPV Vaccine is a one-time shot for all adults over 65 or for
younger people with lowered immunity.
A simple case of tetanus can advance to "lockjaw" or muscle paralysis, which can result in
death. Booster shots are needed every 10 years, not just when there is an infection threat from
an open puncture wound. A "cocktail" vaccine, Tdap, consisting of a tetanus booster, diphtheria
and whooping cough vaccines was introduced in 2005. (Although whooping cough is typically a
childhood affliction and part of the childhood immunization schedule, the inevitable weakening
of childhood-administered vaccines resulted in a recent surge of adult cases. Additionally,
adults caring for young children are the number one adult group contracting whooping cough
infection; a Tdap vaccination would provide safety from infection for that risk group.)
The human papillomarvirusis (HPV) can cause genital warts and cervical cancer. (70% of
cervical cancer cases in the United States are linked to HPV.) A three-shot series administered
to young women up to the age of 26 can prevent HPV. (Studies are currently underway to
determine the HPV vaccine's effectiveness in women older than 26 and in males. A published
study in the June 2009 issue of The Lancet indicated that the HPV Vaccine is indeed effective
for women ages 24 - 45. Check with your doctor to determine your own personal eligibility,
whatever your age. Currently, most insurers do not cover an HPV vaccination for older women.)
It should also be noted that the vaccine doesn't protect women who already have been infected
with HPV, regardless of age.
The influenza vaccine, or Flu Shot, is the poster child of adult vaccines. Almost 60% of
American adults already receive annual flu shots. An annual shot is necessary because the
influenza virus continually changes; the annual shots are developed in anticipation of which
strain contructs will be in the vanguard during a particular flu season.
For instance, the 2007 flu vaccine was developed to combat 3 different influenza strains - it
turned out that only one was effective. The process of predicting the coming virus strains is
refined and improved each year. The flu shot is not always 100% effective, but generally does
a very good job at preventing serious infections. (Click here to read about the current swine flu
vaccine and its supposed risks and benefits.)
For more information on adult vaccines and the diseases they're intended to prevent, visit the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov.
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