When was the last time you thought about your vaccinations? If you’re like most adults, you probably think of vaccines as something children and teenagers need. However, they play a crucial role in preventive care for people of all ages.
At Health First Primary Care, Dr. Gisela Vargas recommends vaccinations and boosters for adults and children. Some are age-specific, like the pneumonia vaccine, but others occur annually — or as boosters scheduled according to your last vaccine.
However, vaccinations all have in common: Their ability to prevent serious illnesses from disrupting your life. Are you up-to-date on these critical vaccines?
One of the most well-known vaccines is the annual flu shot. Studies continue to show that this vaccination helps prevent you from contracting and spreading influenza and its often-serious complications.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone aged six months and older obtain a flu shot before flu season (late fall). This annual vaccine is vital for young children, adults over 65, and anyone with heart disease, diabetes, or other immune-compromising conditions.
These vaccines protect against pneumonia, meningitis, and other serious infections that often lead to hospitalization and even death. Good candidates for the pneumococcal vaccine include people over 65 or those with diabetes, asthma, COPD, or other chronic medical conditions.
Some vaccines last a lifetime, but others need periodic boosters to maintain their potency. One example is the tetanus shot. Tetanus occurs when a toxin develops from a bacterial infection in an open wound, causing severe muscle contractions and difficulty breathing that can lead to death.
Treatment for tetanus is often ineffective. So, even if you’ve had this vaccine in the past, you should have a booster every ten years to protect yourself against this painful and potentially fatal condition.
Dr. Vargas could suggest a Tdap vaccine rather than a simple tetanus booster. This option offers combined protection against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) in a single vaccination.
Diphtheria is a bacterial infection causing a thick coating at the back of the throat that leads to difficulty breathing, heart failure, and even death in children and adults. Whooping cough is a respiratory ailment that causes violent coughing, making it hard to breathe. This illness can also be deadly for infants.
Tdap is recommended for pregnant women to protect both mother and infant from these dangerous and sometimes fatal infections. Every adult should also receive at least one Tdap booster in their lifetime.
When you’ve had chickenpox, the virus remains in your system, even after you’ve recovered. That means it can also reactivate in adulthood as shingles. This condition causes a painful rash, and many people experience ongoing and often severe nerve pain (neuralgia) in the affected for months to years afterward once the rash subsides.
Getting this vaccine can prevent shingles or, at the very least, decrease the severity of your outbreak, along with the risk of ongoing nerve pain.
Hepatitis A and B develop from viruses that attack and inflame the liver. Unfortunately, Hepatitis B can become a chronic infection that may increase your risk of liver cancer and death. Dr. Vargas recommends these vaccines for children, teens, and adults.
Before you leave on a trip, check-in with Dr. Vargas about vaccinations. Doctors often recommend specific vaccinations, depending on where you’re traveling. For example, Dr. Vargas could suggest a hepatitis A vaccine for those traveling to areas known for hepatitis A outbreaks.
In some cases, it’s also wise to have a one-time polio booster to protect you during foreign travel.
You can still get vaccinations even if you’re unsure of your vaccine history. Whether you’re looking to protect yourself from illness while at home or on the road, Dr. Vargas can help determine the best approach to building your resistance against infectious diseases.
Call one of our convenient locations in Tampa, Florida, or request an appointment online today.