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Not just for children: Vaccines adults are advised to take

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Getting immunised isn’t for during your childhood only as protection from vaccines wear off over time.

At various stages throughout your adulthood, there are vaccines recommended based on your age, line of work, travel and various medical conditions.

Here are a few vaccines you should be sure to get up to date on:

Flu vaccine – the seasonal flu (influenza) vaccine is recommended annually. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) people chronic health conditions, pregnant women, and older adults especially, should be sure to get their flu shot annually.

Varicella (chicken pox) – Chickenpox, caused by the varicella-zoster virus, is usually mild and runs its course in five to 10 days. It causes fever, itchy spots and blisters all over the body. For teens and adults, however, chickenpox can cause more serious problems. The same is true for immunocompromised people, who are even more susceptible to developing serious complications.

Adults who have never had chickenpox or received the vaccination should be vaccinated against it. WebMD says two doses of the vaccine should be given at least four weeks apart. Those who have never had chickenpox or been vaccinated and are exposed to chickenpox, should get vaccinated right away to greatly reduce the risk of getting sick.

Adult TD – Adults should ideally get vaccinated every 10 years to ensure that they’re protected from tetanus which enters the body through cuts and wounds and diphtheria, which causes difficulty breathing, heart failure, paralysis, or death, and is spread from person to person.

MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) – The National Health Services (NHS) recommends older children and adults get their MMR vaccine if they have not had their two doses, if they’re planning to travel abroad, start college/university, are a frontline healthcare worker or are planning a pregnancy.

Yellow Fever – While a single dose typically provides lifetime protection, proof of vaccination against yellow fever is a travel requirement to enter certain countries.

Adult Pneumococcal – This vaccine is sometimes called the pneumonia vaccine. It protects against potentially fatal pneumococcal infections including sepsis (blood poisoning) and meningitis.Adults with certain medical conditions or other risk factors, including chronic heart disease, chronic liver disease, chronic lung disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, and asthma, diabetes mellitus and alcoholism, smoking should get vaccinated.

Meningococcal – This vaccine offers protection from four types of bacteria that cause meningococcal disease that can cause meningitis, an infection of the lining around the brain or spinal cord.

For patients at prolonged increased risk for this disease, the CDC recommends booster doses after completion of the primary series. A booster dose should be administered one year after series completion and then every two to 3 years afterwards.

Hepatitis B – The vaccine provides protection against the hepatitis B virus, which is a major cause of serious liver disease, including scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) and liver cancer. Full protection involves having three shots of the vaccine at the recommended intervals. Adults aged 19 through 59 years and those 60 years and older with risk factors for hepatitis B should get vaccinated.

HPV vaccine – According to the CDC, HPV vaccination is an important part of cancer prevention. In T&T, the vaccine is offered in a series of doses at recommended intervals, and is administered to children between 11 and 15 years (two doses) and again, when they are older than 15 (three doses).

It’s important to note that, HPV vaccination only prevents new HPV infections. It cannot treat existing HPV infections or diseases. The vaccine works best when given before any exposure to HPV.

As per CDC guidelines, vaccination is recommended for everyone through age 26, if not adequately immunised when younger.

COVID-19 vaccine – PAHO encourages people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 with whatever vaccine is offered to them first. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has approved the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, the Janssen vaccine, the Moderna vaccine, the Sinopharm vaccine, the Sinovac vaccine, the Bharat vaccine and the Novavax vaccine for use in adults. All authorised vaccines have proven to be safe and effective at preventing serious illness by the national regulatory authority of each country.

It’s important to ensure that you’re fully immunised against vaccine preventable diseases. Vaccines are available free of charge at health centres across the country. Speak with your healthcare provider to discuss any concerns about vaccination.

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