Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
National Immunization Awareness Month
There are many things we want to pass on to our loved ones - illness is not one of them.
You want to pass on certain things like family traditions, a grandmother's quilt, dad's love of books, even your love of country - but no one wants to pass on a serious illness. Take charge of your health and help protect those around you by asking about vaccines at your next doctor's visit.
Vaccinating children is commonplace in the United States. But the need for vaccinations does not end in childhood. Vaccines are recommended throughout our lives based on age, lifestyle, occupation, travel destinations, medical conditions and vaccines received in the past. Unfortunately, many adults don't know which vaccines they need, and even fewer are fully vaccinated. For example, in 2014, only 28 percent of adults ages 60 and older had received a shingles vaccine and only 20 percent of adults older than 19 had received a Tdap vaccine. Each year, tens of thousands of adults needlessly suffer, are hospitalized, and even die as a result of diseases that could be prevented by vaccines.
August is National Immunization Awareness Month in the United States -- a time when we remind Veterans of the importance of getting recommended vaccines. Vaccines are recommended for adults to prevent serious diseases such as influenza (flu), shingles, pneumonia, hepatitis, and whooping cough.
Adults can get vaccinated at doctors' offices, pharmacies, workplaces, health clinics and health departments. Charleston VA patients can get vaccinated at our main facility or at the nearest community based outpatient clinic. However, some vaccines may be delayed depending on your provider's location or the time of year. Some vaccines, like the flu shot, are seasonal and only available during certain time of the year. For information about getting immunized at non-VA facilities, visit the HealthMap Vaccine Finder to locate a vaccine provider near you.
So what vaccines do you need?
All adults should get an annual flu vaccine to protect against seasonal flu and a Td vaccine every 10 years to protect against tetanus and diphtheria. You may also need other vaccines based on your age, health conditions, occupation, and other factors. If you are planning to travel outside of the United States, check for additional vaccines you may need. Some travel-related vaccines are part of a series or are needed months prior to your travel to be most effective, so be sure to plan ahead.
In short, all adults should get:
- Annual flu vaccine to protect against seasonal flu
- Td/Tdap to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis
Some additional vaccines you may need (depending on your age, health conditions and other factors) include:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Talk with your health care professional about which vaccines are right for you based on your age, health, job, lifestyle, and other factors. CDC also offers a short quiz to help you find out which vaccines you might need. You can take the results of your quiz to your provider to discuss which vaccines are right for you.
Learn more about these and other vaccines on the VA's Public Health website. Visit There Are Vaccines You Need as an Adult on the CDC website for more information about adult vaccines. A full schedule of adult immunizations is available for download here.
Note: Content on this page has been adapted from the National Public Health Information Coalition.