robyn got vaccinated

Most of us think of kids when we hear about vaccines and immunizations. However, adults need vaccinations too. Just like we want our children to be protected, we need to protect ourselves as well.

adult vaccines
Image Source: National Foundation for Infectious Diseases

Adults need regular vaccinations to help keep them healthy. There is a lot of information out there on pros and cons of immunizations of all kinds. You should always talk to your doctor about which ones are right for you or not. I’m not arguing the validity of any of these things in this post, simply informing and reminding you that it is something, as an adult, you need to be aware of.

Honestly, I was a bit surprised at all of the vaccines on these charts. I was not even aware of some of them. Some of them are fairly new since I was a kid. It is important to note that recommendations for immunizations change as well. So while this information is current as I write this blog post it may change at any time. Again, you need to talk to your doctor about these things. I have started to make a habit of asking my primary doctor on each visit if I am due for any vaccines. Your own medical history is really important to consider along with the general chart for adults since certain medical conditions, allergies, pregnancy, and much more can change what is or is not recommended for you at any time.

Adult Immunization Schedule

Adult Immunization Schedule
Image Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
immunization acronyms
Image Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

One of the biggest ones is the varicella vaccine, aka chicken pox and shingles. When I was a kid it was common for parents to put kids together when they had chicken pox so everyone got the illness and got over it. By the time I had my son the chicken pox vaccine was available and he got that shot. Then we started learning about shingles which is related. Both of my grandmothers had shingles and they both were so very miserable with it – far more miserable than most kids have with chicken pox. This is one of the vaccines that is really important to consider as an older adult.

The HPV, Human Papillomavirus, has over 100 known variations. While this is categorized under STD, sexually transmitted disease, it should not cause shame to anyone. It is far more common than what people realize. When the HPV vaccine first started being talked about it was all about tweens getting vaccinated which honestly freaked me out since my son was a teen at that time. I admit I tend to be a bit leery when new vaccines come out as well. However, the research and statistics about HPV continue to grow and I think this is another important vaccine for adults, especially young adults, to look at and talk to their doctors about.

One of the most common adult vaccines is for the flu. The CDC changes the standard seasonal flu vaccine based on what they think will be happening in a given flu season. The immunization will not give you the flu, however you can still get the flu even if you got the vaccine. This is mostly because it might be a different strain of the flu. Getting your flu vaccine each year though can also help minimize the symptoms of flu even if it is a different strain. Many employers now offer free flu vaccines at work even because it helps keep it from spreading through the workforce causing lots of missed days of work. Local health clinics also often have free flu vaccine days even if you do not have health insurance.

Are You Afraid of Shots?

I truly can understand this. I was terrified of shots and needles when I was younger. When I was a little kid I remember running and hiding behind a giant potted plant in the waiting room of the doctor’s office to avoid getting a shot even. At some point someone suggested to me to count and keep my mind off of the needle or shot, as much as possible, and it made a huge difference. After that I started counting out loud whenever I had to get a shot or get blood drawn or the like and it made it so much less stressful. I taught that to my son as well which helped him. Don’t be embarrassed to do this in front of the nurse or doctor either, they want you to be calm also and are usually very happy that you are taking steps to make their job easier. I promise, this really does help!

Are you up to date on all your vaccines as an adult? Please make sure to check out the CDC section about vaccinations and immunizations for more detailed information and talk with your primary care physician as well.