You had all of your immunizations as a child, right? So, you’ve probably assumed that you don’t need to worry about getting vaccinated against anything as an adult. Things have changed since you were a child, and you may actually be at risk for dangerous diseases that can be prevented with a simple trip to the doctor. We spoke with Dr. Del Rosario, an internist at North Hills Hospital, and he had a lot to share about which vaccinations you should prioritize. Let’s get you caught up here.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
The HPV vaccine is one of the only vaccines we have to protect us from certain forms of cancer. Dr. Del Rosario encourages both male and female children and adults ages 9–26 to be vaccinated against this common and potentially dangerous virus.
“Many HPV strains can lead to cervical cancer and even cancer of the penis. My son has been vaccinated, and every person in this age range should be, too.”
In the 1970s, the whooping cough (a highly contagious and debilitating lung infection) was rarely reported thanks to vaccinations. However, Dr. Del Rosario noted that childhood vaccinations do not offer a lifetime protection, and every adult needs a tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Td/Tdap) booster every ten years. Since many adults do not go back for their booster, Dr. Del Rosario pointed out that the incidences of whooping cough have increased significantly.
If you have had chicken pox, you are at risk for shingles later in life. Since this very painful virus tends to have more pronounced symptoms with age, any adult 60 and over should be vaccinated. Dr. Del Rosario stresses the importance of this vaccination for any person whose immune system is compromised.
This form of pneumonia is highly contagious and dangerous to many. Once again, Dr. Del Rosario explained that there is a vaccine offered but not many adults go out of their way to get one. Who should be vaccinated? Those with a compromised immune system, smokers ages 19 and older, those living in close quarters, those with sickle cell disease, those without spleens and those living or working in nursing homes.
Hepatitis A and B
Did you know that you could acquire hepatitis A from those with this disease who handle your food? Hepatitis B can be transmitted via blood or bodily fluids. While most children are vaccinated against both types, the majority of adults rarely are. Adults who are at risk for acquiring this liver disease are sexually active adults, those working around food, laboratories, or waste, those working in the healthcare industry and patients.
This may be the one condition that you do know you should be vaccinated against. However, many avoid getting the flu shot because they fear that it will make them sick. Dr. Del Rosario responds to this misconception.
“While some may experience a few minor symptoms of the flu, you can rest assured that this is not the flu itself.” But keep in mind that the flu vaccine is only effective if it is given 2–3 weeks before flu exposure. The flu peaks in December and January so talk to your physician about being vaccinated now.
When we asked Dr. Del Rosario about what he would tell his patients who are concerned about any vaccination risks, he pointed out:
“It is important to remember that the illness you are being vaccinated against is far more dangerous than any of the potential side effects. Also, without vaccination, you run the risk of infecting your family and missing valuable time at work. If we feel confident about vaccinating AIDs patients, any healthy adult should feel confident that vaccinations are safe.”
To schedule an appointment with a physician or to find out more about adult vaccinations, please call North Hills Hospital at (817) 255-1000.