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Syringes for Adult Booster Shots

What Are Adult Booster Shots and Why They’re Important

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With some types of vaccines, an additional dose is needed periodically in order to boost the immune system and ensure that the immunity to that particular disease is maintained. The bottom line is, protection from some childhood vaccines can wear off over time, making boosters necessary. In addition, sometimes as an adult your job, lifestyle, travel, or certain health conditions can put you at increased risk for vaccine-preventable diseases, where a booster shot can make all the difference. Here’s a look at the importance of maintaining a vaccination schedule post childhood and general vaccination recommendations for adults, specifically from the ages of 19 to 64.

Importance of Adult Vaccination

Following an initial immunization, a booster vaccine is given to re-expose the body to the immunizing antigen cell. A booster shot is designed to increase immunity against that antigen in the body back to protective levels after it has been shown to have decreased or after a specified period of time. Adult vaccine boosters are important, as they don’t just protect the person being vaccinated but also the people in the community, especially those who aren’t able to get certain vaccinations due to their age or a current health condition. Booster shots can also make all the difference if you have developed health issues in adulthood, such as immune-suppressing diseases or chronic conditions like diabetes or heart or liver disease.

CDC/ACIP Recommended Adult Booster Shots

Here are some of the most common booster shots recommended for adults by the US government’s CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and ACIP (Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices).

  • Td/Tdap—Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (1 booster every 10 years): This is one of those vaccines that requires a regular booster. In addition, the CDC and ACIP recommend that 1 dose of the vaccine is administered to pregnant women during each pregnancy (between 27 and 36 weeks’ gestation), regardless of prior vaccination interval.
  • MMR—Measles, Mumps, Rubella (1 or 2 doses): While adults born prior to 1957 are generally considered immune to mumps and measles, all adults born after this year or later should have 1 or more doses of MMR vaccine. This is the case even if the person had a documented case of measles, mumps, or rubella. It’s important also to note that persons vaccinated before 1979 with either killed mumps vaccine or a mumps vaccine of an unknown type and are at high risk for mumps infection (such as health care workers) should strongly consider 2 doses of MMR.
  • Zoster/Shingles (1 dose at age 60): Regardless of whether you have had a prior episode of herpes zoster, a post-60 vaccination is recommended according to the ACIP (the U.S. Food and Drug Administration licenses the vaccine for use among people 50 years or older). It’s generally recommended that you get a zoster booster, even if you’ve had shingles before.
  • Varicella (1 or 2 doses): All adults who don’t have evidence of immunity to varicella (such as documentation of 2 doses of the vaccine or history of the illness) receive 2 doses of single-antigen varicella vaccine. If they have already received a single dose, then a booster dose is highly recommended.
  • Flu vaccine (1 dose annually): Since the flu virus is ever evolving, annual vaccination against influenza is recommended for all persons aged 6 months or older, and particularly those in close contact with those at a higher risk, including young children, seniors, and those with a compromised immune system.

This article is meant to be informative and is not intended to be medical advice. Consult your doctor before making any health decisions.

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