Routine Adult Vaccinations
Hepatitis A is a serious viral infection of the liver, spread by contaminated food and water. It is common throughout the developing world and in some parts of the western U.S. Hepatitis A can be a mild disease in children, but can be severe enough in adults to cause hospitalization and even death. Click here for C.D.C. Vaccine Information Statement
Hepatitis B is a serious viral infection of the liver that can lead to cancer and/or death. Hepatitis B is spread through sexual contact and contact with infected blood (transfusions, tattooing, body piercing and injections with contaminated needles). In the U.S. about 12.5 million persons have been infected with Hepatitis B. Many adults have not received this vaccination, although it is a requirement for health-care workers and is now a routine childhood immunization. Click here for C.D.C. Vaccine Information Statement.
Human papilloma virus is the name of a group of viruses that includes more than 100 different types. More than 30 of these viruses are sexually transmitted, and can infect the genital and rectal areas and mouth and throat of both men and women. Most people who become infected with HPV will not have any symptoms and will clear the infection on their own. However, some of these viruses are called "high-risk" types, and are responsible for virtually all cases of cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, or penis. Gardasil, or HPV vaccine, is recommended for young women and men ages 13 to 26. Gardasil can provide immunity to 4 common strains of the HPV virus. Girls and boys should receive the vaccine long before they become sexually active, to ensure adequate protection. This vaccine will also protect against many causes of genital warts. Click here for C.D.C. Vaccine Information Statement.
Influenza, or "the flu" is not the stomach upset many people think of. Influenza is a serious respiratory illness with high fever, severe body aches and cough, that can progress to pneumonia and death. Each year influenza causes approximately 36,000 deaths and 226,000 hospitalizations in the U.S. The influenza virus constantly mutates, or changes structure, so scientists must decide which strains are most likely to cause disease for the next year, and include those strains in the vaccine. Some adults may believe they have been made ill by receiving the flu vaccine. However, the Influenza vaccine does not contain any live virus, and cannot cause the flu. Because the vaccine is given from Fall through the Winter time, a time when many colds and illnesses occur, a person may mistakenly believe the vaccination caused an illness. Flu vaccination should be an annual event for everyone over the age of 6 months. Click here for C.D.C. Vaccine Information Statement.
Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus transmitted by direct contact with infectious droplets. The incubation period of measles is generally 14 days (range 7-18). Measles was once considered a childhood disease, but recently adults in the U.S. have accounted for 48% of cases. Travelers to Europe, Japan and India may bring infection back to the U.S. Measles can cause pneumonia, brain damage and death.
Mumps is a viral illness characterized by swelling of the salivary glands. Mumps, is also considered a childhood disease but can cause serious complications in males after puberty with swelling of the testicles and in rare cases, sterility.
Rubella, or German Measles, is a viral disease that can affect persons of any age. Although rubella is generally a mild rash illness, if contracted in the early months of pregnancy it is associated with a high rate of miscarriage and complications that include birth defects, such as heart problems and mental retardation. About 10% of young adults in the U.S. are unprotected against rubella, and outbreaks occur on college campuses and work sites. Click here for C.D.C. Vaccine Information Statement.
Meningitis is a dangerous illness caused by a bacteria that can infect the bloodstream, brain and spinal cord. It is passed among individuals living in close quarters, such as college dormitories and camps. Formerly, the fatality rate for meningitis exceeded 50%, but early diagnosis, modern therapy have lowered the fatality ratio to about 10% in developed countries. Among survivors, 11%-19% will have long-term effects, including hearing loss, neurologic disability, or limb loss. Devastating epidemics occur in certain parts of the world. Up to 10% of the population in countries with endemic disease carry the meningitis bacteria in the nose and throat without having any symptoms. This vaccination is recommended for college freshmen and travelers to certain parts of the world. Click here for C.D.C. Vaccine Information Statement.
Pneumococcal pneumonia is a bacterial cause of life-threatening pneumonia and meningitis in adults. This bacteria is protected by a special capsule that also increases its virulence. Thousands of adults die from this type of pneumonia in the U.S. every year. The vaccine is recommended for adults 65 years of age and older, and for younger persons with chronic diseases, such as asthma and heart disease. A booster may be given after 5 years if the first vaccination was given before the age of 60. Click to see CDC Vaccine Information Statement.
Polio is an infectious disease caused by a virus that lives in the throat and intestinal tract. It is most often spread through contact with the stool of an infected person and through oral/nasal secretions. Polio used to be very common in the U.S. and caused paralysis or death in thousands of people each year before the polio vaccine was introduced in 1955. Polio has been eliminated in the U.S. but is still prevalent in some parts of the developing world. Travelers may need a booster dose even if they received the polio vaccine as a child. Click here for C.D.C. Vaccine Information Statement
Before planning any adventure travel be sure you're up to date on your tetanus shot.
Tetanus, or lockjaw, is often a fatal disease. A toxin produced by the bacteria causes severe muscle spasms that are extremely painful and can paralyze the muscles of the heart and lungs. Tetanus lives in the soil throughout the world and enters the body through cuts, burns and puncture wounds. Since the tetanus shot was developed in the 1920's, tetanus cases have declined dramatically. However, many adults lack protection against tetanus; adults should get a tetanus booster every 10 years.
Diptheria is a contagious disease caused by a bacterial toxin that attacks the throat, tonsils, nose and voice box. Severe complications are breathing problems, heart failure, coma and death. Before vaccination became widespread, diphtheria was one of the main causes of infant mortality. Diptheria is rare in the U.S., but still persists in certain areas of the world, particularly in Africa and S.E. Asia. Vaccination helps protect from an epidemic in the U.S.
Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a highly contagious bacterial disease that causes severe coughing spasms. In children, the coughing often ends with a "whoop" noise. Coughing spells may be violent enough to cause vomiting. Because pertussis can cause permanent disability and death in infants, adults should receive a single booster included in their next tetanus shot (Tdap). Adults who will be around infants (parents, grandparents, caregivers) should receive the new Tdap booster if it has been two or more years since their last tetanus shot. Click here for C.D.C. Vaccine Information Statement.
Chickenpox, or Varicella, is a highly contagious disease that is far more serious in adults than children. When contracted after childhood, teens and adults can experience complications of severe skin infection, pneumonia, brain damage and death. Before the varicella vaccine, about 11,000 people were hospitalized for chickenpox and about 100 people died each year in the U.S. Varicella vaccine is a routine immunization for children, but adults who have not had the disease may also receive the vaccine. Click here for C.D.C. Vaccine Information Statement.
Shingles is a recurrence of the chickenpox virus that survived in a person after having the childhood disease. Occasionally the virus may become active and cause a sudden outbreak of painful blisters along a nerve. Most adults know someone who has suffered chronic debilitating pain as a result of shingles. Shingles vaccine, or Zostavax, is recommended for adults over the age of 60. Zostavax is approximately 75% effective in either preventing shingles or causing the attack to be shorter and less intense. Click here for C.D.C. Vaccine Information Statement.