Our Canadian vaccination programs have been very successful against a variety of contagious diseases such as polio and measles. These vaccines save about 2.6 million child lives each year. However, vaccination is not just important for children, it is also important for adults.
Which Diseases are Vaccine Preventable?
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Herpes Zoster (Shingles)
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Meningococcal (Meningitis)
- Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
- Pneumonia (Pneumonia)
- Varicella (Chicken Pox)
Reasons Adults Need Vaccines Later in Life
- Vaccines protect you and those around you from vaccine-preventable diseases. This includes those individuals who cannot be immunized such as babies, young children, pregnant women and people with medical conditions who have a weakened immune system.
- As we age, the level of protection (number of antibodies) we once had from our childhood vaccines may decrease for some diseases. Receiving an extra dose (called a booster) of the vaccine for disease which we need extra protection can renew our protection.
- Some individuals may not have received all of the doses needed of a vaccine series. This is why it is important to review your immunization records and have the antibody levels (called titers) if you are not certain of the level of protection you may have to vaccine preventable diseases.
- Certain diseases are more prevalent in adults instead of children such as the shingles, pneumonia and influenza. Diseases such as pneumonia and flu can cause severe illness and death in older adults over the age of 60. As many as 70,000 adults die from pneumonia and the flu in the United States each year, this number could be greatly reduced with vaccines.
Recommended Vaccines for All Healthy Adults
Tetanus and Diptheria: Every 10 years
Herpes Zoster: At age 60 (may be given between 50-59 years if desired)
Shingrix (a new alternative to Zostavax) is now covered for individuals between the ages of 65-70 and consists of a series of 2 vaccines, 2-6 months apart
Influenza: Every year during flu season
Pertussis: 1 dose as adult
Pneumococcal : 1 dose at age 65 or greater
Additional Vaccines you may need as an Adult
Hepatitis A- 1 dose if going to an area at high risk for exposure or have had suspected exposure
Hepatitis B-1 booster dose or multiple if never received or completed vaccine series
HPV vaccine- 3 doses, now recommended up to age 45 and sometimes beyond
Measles, Mumps, Rubella- 1 booster dose
Meningitis- 1 dose at age 24 years or younger
Varicella- 1 booster dose if have never had Chicken pox or vaccines or if antibody levels low
Travel vaccines- (i.e. Typhoid Fever) varies depending on where you are travelling.
Remember: not all individuals require the same vaccines. Talk to your health care provider to see what you need to be fully protected depending on your medical history, job, lifestyle and health risks.