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Own your immunizations

Posted January 12, 2017 by Anne Valeri, DO, FAAFP

Vaccines aren’t just for kids! One important way to own your health is to stay up to date on all of the recommended immunizations, even as you get older. Vaccines are recommended for all adults to help prevent getting and spreading diseases, and are especially important for those with chronic conditions who are more likely to develop complications from certain vaccine-preventable diseases.

Even if you were vaccinated at a younger age, the protection from some vaccines can wear off over time. Sometimes the targeted viruses or bacteria change so that your immunity from a previous infection or vaccination is not as strong. As an adult, you may also be at risk for vaccine-preventable diseases due to your age, job, hobbies, travel, or health conditions.

The CDC recommends that all adults get the following vaccines:

  • Influenza vaccine every year to protect against seasonal flu
  • Td vaccine every 10 years to protect against tetanus
  • A one-time Tdap vaccine to replace the Td vaccine and boost protection against pertussis (whooping cough).  This should additionally be given to women during each pregnancy.
  • Other vaccines you need as an adult are determined by factors such as age, lifestyle, job, health condition and vaccines you have had in the past. Vaccines you need may include those that protect against: shingles, human papillomavirus (which can cause certain cancers), pneumococcal disease, meningococcal disease, hepatitis A and B, chickenpox (varicella), measles, mumps, and rubella.

If you are planning to travel out of the country, the CDC website has recommendations for other vaccines based upon your destination. These vaccines may take several weeks after you are immunized to start protecting you, so plan accordingly. You may find more information here.

Also, the CDC is no longer recommending the nasal spray version of the flu vaccine. New data shows the FluMist offers little to no protection from the flu, so unfortunately this year, it’s the flu shot for everyone.

Please note that most vaccines given in the United States are available in thimerosal-free formulations, which should ease concerns over potential mercury exposure.

Be sure to talk to your doctor to make sure you are up to date on the vaccines that are recommended for you. If you need a primary care physician, call 800.23.SUMMA, or visit

Anne Valeri, DO, FAAFP
Associate Director, Family Medicine Residency
Summa Health System - Akron Campus


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