Immunizations aren't just for kids

Have you been keeping up on your immunizations?

There are some things you never outgrow: Ice cream on a warm summer night. Your favorite childhood song. That special holiday. Puppies.

Immunizations are one that might not hit your listbut they should. Most people know the importance of protecting their children from deadly diseases like polio and tetanus, but as adults we may think we only need our annual flu shot.

The truth is, there are not only new vaccines to protect you, but boosters for your previous vaccines might be wearing off. Some adult immunizations include tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, pneumococcal, meningococcal, hepatitis A and B, Zoster-shingles, measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (although varicella is usually just for health care workers).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently recommended two doses of a new vaccine to protect against shingles, which is made up by the same virus that causes chickenpox. If you ever had chickenpox, the virus lies dormant in your nerve cells until years later, when it can reactivate and cause an extremely painful rash and blisters.

Health authorities also recommend two pneumonia (pneumococcal) vaccines and boosters for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) - but only during a mumps outbreak.

That's a bit to keep track of, but the good news is that your doctor or pharmacist can help. In Utah, we have a "lifetime immunization registry," a database your doctor can check to see if you have ever had immunizations. You can help make your record complete by providing information about vaccinations given more than a few years ago or given out of state. Caregivers are recording immunizations given now so it will make it easy for you to remember what you will need in the future.

Most vaccines are covered as preventive care by commercial insurance. Once you are covered by Medicare, some deductibles and copays apply; so get as many of your adult vaccines as possible before you turn 65. Flu and pneumonia vaccines should always be covered.

The CDC also has an excellent web page to get good information on immunization. And, of course, your healthcare provider or pharmacist is happy to help as well.

Join Intermountain Healthcare experts on Tuesday, April 10th as they discuss ways to protect yourself, your family and your community through immunization. Tips and suggestions will be offered throughout the day on Channel 2, with nurses, doctors and other medical experts providing interviews during news and other broadcasts.

If you have your own questions, our panel of experts will be answering your phone calls from noon to 5:30 p.m. at 1-877-908-0680. You can also submit questions via Facebook and Twitter using #kutvasktheexpert.

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