Adult Immunizations

Immunizations aren’t only for babies and children, adults need to keep their immunization’s up to date too! There are more adult vaccinations to consider than just the annual flu shot. Keep reading to see if there are other vaccinations that you should be asking your doctor or pharmacist about.

What is an immunization?

A vaccine is a biological preparation made up of either a portion of a virus or toxin (inactive), or a weakened “live” virus. Once the immunization is injected, your bodies immune system learns to recognize the virus as an invader. The next time that your body comes in contact with the virus, it is able to defend itself and prevent you from be-coming infected and sick.

What are the benefits of immunization?

There are benefits to both the person receiving the immunization as well as to the population as a whole. The person who receives the immunization becomes immune to the disease and will not suffer symptoms or serious consequences of the illness.

Immunizing yourself also helps others by decreasing the spread of illness to those who cannot receive immunizations (i.e. those with compromised immune systems due to illness or medications). Additionally, preventing disease is much cheaper than treating disease. Therefore, immunizations work to drastically decrease government health care expenditures.

Which immunizations should adults have?

There are 2 categories of adult vaccinations, those that every adult requires and those for adults in specific risk groups. Risk groups are comprised of adults over a certain age, those with chronic conditions (i.e. cardiovascular and respiratory diseases) that make them more susceptible to disease as well as those traveling out of the country.

1) Routine Immunizations for All Adults

  • Annual Influenza vaccination (Oct- March)
  • Meningitis—young adults (once)
  • Tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis—a booster is required every 10 years
  • Measels/mumps/rubella—one dose for adults born in or after 1970
  • Chickenpox—3 doses for adults with no history of disease

2) Immunizations for Adults in Specific Risk Groups

  • Pneumonia— adults 65 and older or those with increased risk
  • Shingles—adults 60 and older
  • Hepatitis A—travel or post exposure prophylaxis
  • Hepatitis B—occupational risk, those with liver disease
  • Cholera—travel
  • Japanese encephalitis—travel
  • Polio—travel
  • Meningitis—high risk exposure groups
  • Rabies—occupational or high risk travel
  • Typhoid—travel
  • Yellow Fever—travel

How do you know if you’re immunizations are up to date?

Check your immunization record book. Many people have a personal record book which can tell you if you are up to date! If you are unsure, bring your record book to your pharmacist and have them assess your status. If you don’t have a record at home, you can check with your doctor. At your next doctor’s visit you can ask your doctor about your immunization status to see when you were last immunized. They may be able to provide you with your record and also advise you of any immunizations you may require.

Are you planning on traveling out of the country?

If you are planning on traveling out of the country it is recommended that you ensure your immunizations are up to date. Check with your family physician or book an appointment at the travel clinic (403-388-6666) a minimum of 6 months before your intended travel date! Some travel immunizations require 6 months to administer the series so be sure to plan ahead!

Questions? Ask your pharmacist about your immunization status today!

For more information visit www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

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