If you think immunization is kid's stuff, you might want to reconsider. Although childhood immunizations continue to be a major and controversial focus of preventive health, adults are also subject to many vaccine-preventable diseases such as hepatitis, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, pneumonia, and influenza. Vaccines are also important in protecting against diseases that may be prevalent while traveling in other countries, such as cholera, malaria, and yellow fever.

The Details

Influenza
The influenza vaccine helps prevent flu-associated symptoms, such as fever, muscle aches, coughs, sore throats, and headaches. Although it's considered a trivial illness by some, the flu is very contagious and can be life-threatening to anyone with a heart condition, diabetes, lung disease, kidney problems, or immune system deficiencies.

The flu vaccine is recommended for people who:
· are over 65
· have a heart condition, diabetes, lung disease, kidney problems, or immune system deficiencies
· live with someone for whom the flu could be dangerous

The annual flu shot should be given in the fall. Most people who get a flu shot may have a sore arm for a day or two. If you are allergic to eggs, you must notify your health care provider because the flu vaccine is derived from chicken eggs.

Although people over 65 are at an increased risk for contracting the illness, younger people are also susceptible. (As many women care for both their young children and their aging parents, these normally-healthy women can place themselves and those close to them at risk.)

The annual flu shot should be given in the fall. Most people who get a flu shot may have a sore arm for a day or two. If you are allergic to eggs, you must notify your health care provider because the flu vaccine is derived from chicken eggs.

Although people over 65 are at an increased risk for contracting the illness, younger people are also susceptible. (As many women care for both their young children and their aging parents, these normally-healthy women can place themselves and those close to them at risk.)

DIPHTHERIA/TETANUS

This vaccine, also called DpT, is a combination vaccine for tetanus and diphtheria. The tetanus vaccine prevents lock jaw, which causes painful and potentially lethal muscle spasms. Everyone should get a tetanus shot, but it is particularly recommended for those with dirty cuts or wounds. The vaccine should be given again every 10 years. It is common to have a low grade fever and a sore arm for a few days after receiving the injection.

Diphtheria is an infection of the throat that can spread to the heart and lungs. The toxoid for diphtheria is usually given in conjunction with the tetanus vaccine and should be repeated every 10 years.

For the diphtheria/tetanus vaccination, three doses are injected at recommended intervals. The second dose is given one month after the first, and the third dose is given four months after the second. A booster shot is recommended every 10 years.

MEASLES/MUMPS/RUBELLA

Today, the vaccines for the measles, the mumps, and rubella are combined into one injection, although in the past they were given as three separate shots. Most children today receive two doses of the measles vaccine. However, adults born after 1956 must be sure they are fully immunized against all three diseases (taking two shots specifically for the measles) if they are working in health care, traveling internationally, attending college and have never gotten the measles, the mumps, or rubella before. Once a person has contracted measles, lifelong immunity is established and a vaccination is not required or recommended. People whose immune systems are suppressed (other than HIV-infected people, who should be vaccinated if susceptible), people with severe egg allergies, and pregnant women should not receive the measles vaccination.

Rubella (also called German measles) is very contagious. A pregnant woman who becomes infected may expose her unborn child to serious birth defects. Women of child-bearing age who have missed the vaccine or the rubella infection itself should be immunized. A sore arm and mild fever are the most common side effects. Some physicians recommend re-administering the rubella vaccine with the diphtheria and tetanus boosters.

Measles, mumps, and rubella outbreaks continue to occur. In 1990, one third of all people infected with mumps or measles were over 15 years old.

For the Measles/Mumps/Rubella vaccines, the first dose is recommended for those born after 1956, and the second is recommended in health and school settings.

HEPATITIS B

Since hepatitis B is a serious and preventable liver infection that can cause liver failure, cancer, or even death, Hepatitis B vaccination is highly recommended , particularly for the following categories:
Individuals who have had
· a sexually transmitted disease (including AIDS)
· multiple sexual partners

or people who are
· homosexual men
· intravenous drug abusers
. health care workers
· police officers
· dialysis patients
· living with someone who carries the hepatitis B infection

For full protection, you need a series of three shots given over an interval of a few months. The most common side effect is a sore arm, which subsides within a few days.

For the hepatitis B vaccine, three doses should provide lifelong immunity. The second dose is given one month after the first, and the third dose is given five months after the second.

CHICKEN POX

A chicken pox vaccine has recently been developed and is recommended for anyone over age 13 who has not had the illness. It is given in two doses, two months apart. This recent development was in response to a recent surge of new cases. The illness normally lasts two weeks and infected individuals must remain at home to decrease the risk of infecting others who have not had the chicken pox. Many parents, especially dual-income households, are immunizing their children as a prevention measure.

Chicken pox can have deleterious fetal effects during the first 20 weeks of gestation. After 20 weeks, there is less cause for concern unless it is close to the time of delivery. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that women of childbearing age who have not had chicken pox should receive the vaccine before becoming pregnant.

Approximately 10% of Canadians are at risk for the chicken pox. Adults and adolescents who become infected with the chicken pox are 10 times more likely to require hospitalization and to develop pneumonia and bacterial infections.

Doctors are debating the merits of a chicken pox vaccine since it is so new to the market. For those who choose to take it, two doses are recommended for those over age 13 who have not had the chicken pox. The second dose is given 1-2 months after the first

VACCINES RECOMMENDED FOR TRAVELERS

Vaccines recommended for travelers
At least 10 weeks prior to traveling anywhere internationally, check that you are up-to-date with the:
· Measles/Mumps/Rubella Vaccine
· Diphtheria Vaccine
· Polio Vaccine
· Haemophillus Influenza Vaccine

Request a Refill

1 + 1 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.