Adult Immunizations And Vaccinations

Adult immunizations and vaccinations are important preventative medicine. Although much emphasis is placed upon making immunizations available for children, it is important that adults be immunized as well.

Although a great deal of emphasis is put upon child immunizations, adults need to be protected by vaccinations as well. Adults who work in special environments, suffer from various diseases or live certain lifestyles should be protected.

The most widely used adult immunization is the vaccine given for influenza, or flu. All persons 65 years of age or older should have an annual influenza shot. This immunization should be given annually because the virus causing influenza may be different each year. Since the immunization is only effective for a limited time, the best time to obtain this vaccination is in the fall, near the peak of the "flu season".

Only those who have a serious allergy to eggs need be concerned of adverse reactions to this vaccination. If this is the case, a physician should always be consulted before seeking immunizations. The only notable side effect from influenza immunization is a slight soreness in the arm where the injection has been given, which lasts for no more than two to three days.

Those adults less than 65 years old should also have this immunization if problems are present with the heart and lungs or if they are diabetic. These people need the vaccinations since influenza is a highly contagious and serious disease that can be fatal, particularly to those who already suffer from these other ailments. People who work or live with others who may have these medical problems should also be immunized.

Another immunization important for those 65 or older is the Pneumococcal vaccine. This prevents blood infections and pneumonia. This vaccination is only given once, except in the cases of those with certain ailments. The only side-effect is a soreness of the arm at the injection site.

Tetanus immunization can be extremely important to adults. Tetanus is an often fatal disease, the most common symptom of which is a spasm of the muscle used to close the mouth, hence the commonly-used term for tetanus--lockjaw. A tetanus vaccination causes the body to produce antibodies to tetanus. Immunizations are given every ten years, or sooner if a person has had an open wound that may have been contaminated.

It is very important that a person be vaccinated for tetanus if any of the following apply:

---never received tetanus shots

---50 years old or over

---traveling to a foreign country

---working around dirt or manure, as with agricultural workers

---exposed to risks for deep cuts and scrapes

---pregnant women who may deliver in an unhygienic environment or who have never been immunized

Diptheria is caused by a bacteria that lives in the mouth, nose and throat. It is highly contagious and, if not treated, the bacteria will produce a poison which can cause heart failure, paralysis or may be fatal. Diptheria vaccine is often given together with tetanus and pertussivaccines in a DTP shot.

Measles is a highly contagious ailment that may cause pneumonia and brain infections. In some cases, it can be fatal. If born after 1956, adults may need two shots if working in a healthcare field or attending college where they may be constantly exposed. Those with a serious allergy to eggs may have serious side effects from this immunization and should consult a doctor before being vaccinated. Pregnant women should NOT be vaccinated with the measles vaccine.

Rubella, often called German Measles, is a very contagious viral disease. If a pregnant woman contracts rubella, the baby may have birth defects. Women who are not pregnant should have this shot, particularly if a pregnancy is desired in the future. However, pregnancy should be prevented for at least three months following immunization. Women already pregnant should NOT have this vaccine. Side effects from this immunization are usually limited to soreness at the site of the injection and a slight fever. These side effects usually last for two to three days.

Hepatitis B vaccine is given to portect against an infection that can cause liver failure or death. For full protection, a series of three shots is normally needed.

All people who fall into any of the following high-risk categories should have this immunization:

---kidney dialysis patients

---homosexuals

---drug users who use needles

---those who have had a sexually-transmitted disease

---healthcare personnel, police officers and firefighters

---anyone with multiple sexual partners

Other vaccines needed by adults in special situations include:

---rabies vaccine for veterinarians and other animal handlers

---anthrax vaccine for those working with animal hides

---specialized vaccines for travelers to foreign countries (depending upon the country visited and the disease potential

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