HEALTH Adults need to get shots, too
When doctors and other health experts talk about vaccines, more often than not, they’re talking about children.
And though children do typically need to get immunized against mumps, measles and the like if they want to attend school, they’re not the only ones who have to keep up with their shots.
“It’s hard, to some extent, to get adults to understand that vaccines are as important, in some cases more important, for them as they are for children,” said Dr. David Marks, medical director of outpatient primary care for Griffin Faculty Physicians, a multispecialty group affiliated with Griffin Hospital in Derby.
Some of the diseases adults need to shield themselves against range from the merely painful — such as shingles — to the downright deadly, such as flu and pneumonia.
August is National Immunization Awareness month and, with the month winding down, the state health department put out a statement this week urging adults to make sure they are current with their shots.
“The truth is that you never outgrow the need for immunizations to protect your health,” said state health commissioner Raul Pino in the statement.
Dr. Zane Saul, chief of infectious diseases at Bridgeport Hospital, agreed.
“There are a lot of important reasons for people to be up on their shots,” he said “Infectious diseases are complicated, so prevention is key. Often, by the time people realize they have these illnesses, it’s too late.”
Saul said another reason to keep up on immunizations into adulthood is that the availability of good vaccines is constantly changing to include shots to prevent an ever-growing array of illnesses, such as shingles and pneumonia.
The health department released a schedule that listed which shots adults should get and at what age.
For instance, health authorities recommend getting the flu shot every year, getting the shingles vaccine after 50 and getting the pneumonia vaccine after 65 (or earlier for those with certain medical conditions).
Though keeping current on shots can be life-saving, Marks said many adults aren’t as vigilant as they should be about staying up to date with their immunizations.
He said the reasons that adults don’t keep on vaccinations vary, from a fear of needles to a lack of awareness that they need to keep up on their shots.
But, Marks said, if these adults aren’t careful “they are just setting themselves up for diseases.”