Texas schoolchildren must be current on their immunizations before going back to class this fall, but it may have been decades since some of their parents have had a vaccination. August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and UnitedHealthcare wants to remind adults that immunizations are not just for children.
According to 2008 data from The Texas Department of State Health Service's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), only 43 percent of Texans over age 18 have received a tetanus shot (Td) in the last 10 years. Only 11 percent of adult Texans have had a recent vaccination for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap), and only 36 percent of those over age 18 and under age 65 report receiving an influenza vaccine, according to the BRFSS (http://www.cdc.gov/BRFSS).
“Childhood immunizations can fade over time, and some vaccinations require boosters in order to stay effective,” said Dr. Keith Hallock, senior medical director, UnitedHealthcare Texas/Oklahoma. “Depending on age and medical history, it may be time to update your own vaccination record.”
At the top of the list of recommended vaccines is an annual flu shot, as well as a vaccine that protects against pneumococcal pneumonia. A new kind of tetanus booster now offers added protection against pertussis, also known as whooping cough, and can help prevent the spread of pertussis among children who are too young to be fully vaccinated. Other recommendations include vaccines that protect against shingles, meningitis, hepatitis and human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer in women.
A standard vaccination schedule is set by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, with the following recommendations for adults:
- Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis - Booster of Td every 10 years from age 19-65+
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) for women - 3 doses between ages 19-26
- Varicella (chicken pox) - 2 doses between ages19-65+
- Zoster (shingles) - 1 dose for ages 60+
- Measles - 1 or 2 doses between ages 19-50 yr, 1 dose after age 50
- Influenza - 1 dose annually
- Pneumococcal - 1 dose ages 65+
- Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Meningococcal - based on medical and occupational risk factors
Hallock says adults should review their medical records and make sure they are current on recommended vaccinations. Of particular concern are college students, the elderly, caregivers, overseas travelers and anyone who comes in contact with young children.
Adults should follow their physician’s advice with regard to any necessary vaccines or boosters. Anyone planning a trip out of the country should consult with their physicians about additional vaccinations that may be recommended or required prior to traveling. Also check with your health insurer because not all travel-related vaccinations are covered. Physician visits should be scheduled four to six weeks prior to departure because most vaccines take time to become effective, and some must be given in a series, over a period of days or sometimes weeks.
A complete list of recommended vaccinations can be found at www.cdc.gov/vaccines