Chances are that you got a handful of vaccinations as a kid and havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t thought much about it since then. But there are a few shots that you still need to stay on top of as an adultÃ¢â‚¬”like the pertussis vaccine, which protects against whooping cough. Unfortunately, according to a recent report by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott ChildrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Hospital, 61 percent of adults donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know when they were last vaccinated against pertussis. And only 20 percent of adults said they received the vaccine within the last 10 years, which is the recommended time frame to stay protected.
HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s essential to stay up-to-date on this vaccine: Rates of whooping cough cases are at their highest level in 50 years, according to the CDC. And since newborns canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be vaccinated until theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re at least 2 months old, the best way to prevent infection is by vaccinating all adults, teens, and children who will come into contact with them.
If you got the pertussis vaccine as a child or teen, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s recommended that you get the booster as an adult, says Matthew M. Davis, MD, director of the C.S. Mott ChildrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Hospital National Poll on ChildrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Health. The simple way to remember: You should be getting a tetanus shot booster (td booster) every 10 years, so the CDC recommends replacing your next td booster with the tdap booster, which is the same shot combined with the pertussis vaccine. This is especially important for women who are pregnant or anyone who plans to be around a newborn or infant, says Carolyn Bridges, MD, associate director for adult immunizations at the CDC.
Not sure when you were last vaccinated? Talk to your doctor to find out if you need the booster or the primary dose. If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re pregnant or plan to be around a newborn, they might suggest that you get the tdap booster regardless of when your last vaccine may have been, says Davis.
And while youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re at it, use this cheat sheet to stay on top of your shots:
Flu shot: Put this on your calendar every single year. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s recommended that all adults get the flu shot annually since the flu can change from year to year, says Davis. This is also recommended for women who are pregnant since studies show that it may reduce the risk of miscarriage and other complications.
HPV vaccine: This vaccine, which protects against the most common strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV), is recommended for all women and men through age 26Ã¢â‚¬”though ideally, you would have gotten it during adolescence, before any sexual contact, says Bridges. The shot includes three doses, and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s important that you finish the series to reap the full benefits. After youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve had all three doses, no booster shot is necessary, says Bridges.
Meningococcal vaccines: If you lived in a college dorm, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve probably heard horror stories about meningitis, a serious infection of the brain and spinal cord that can be spread when youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re living in close quarters with others. While most people get this vaccine in their teens before they head off to college, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s still possible that you might have missed it. In that case, talk to you doctor to find out if you should be vaccinated. If you got the shot in your teens, you only need to be revaccinated if you suffer from certain medical conditions (such as an immune system disorder or a removed or damaged spleen) or if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be traveling to a high-risk area, such as parts of Africa, says Bridges.
MMR vaccine: ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s recommended that all kids get the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine as children. If you missed it, you should be sure to get it as an adult, says Bridges. Not sure if you had the vaccine? Your doctor can give you a blood test to see if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re protected. Once youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve gotten this vaccination, no booster is necessary.
Varicella vaccine: If you were lucky enough to escape chicken pox as a child, you can now get a vaccine to avoid it altogether. You may have gotten this vaccine as a child or teen, but if not, you can get the two-dose series at any time, says Davis. Not sure if you ever had chickenpox or the shot? Your doctor can do a blood test to determine if you still need to be protected, says Davis.
Hepatitis B vaccine: Many people received the three-dose hepatitis B vaccine as a child. However, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s recommended that all unvaccinated adults at risk for hepatitis B receive the shot. According to the CDC, the people who should get the vaccine includes: anyone with multiple sex partners, people with chronic liver or kidney disease, people under 60 with diabetes, healthcare workers, people with HIV, anyone traveling to countries where hepatitis B may be common, and more. If you havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been vaccinated, talk to your doctor to assess your risk, says Bridges.
Hepatitis A vaccine: This is another shot that you probably got as a child, but if not, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s never too late. According to Bridges, you may need to get vaccinated (if you havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t already) if you have chronic liver disease, are being treated with clotting factor concentrates, or are planning to travel to a country where hepatitis A may be common. Once you receive both doses, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re protected for life.
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