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Adult vaccine recommendations beyond flu, COVID — catch up


Sometimes people forget that there are a lot of adult vaccine recommendations that are beyond just seasonal flu and COVID. And just because you got some of these vaccines as a child doesn’t mean you should ignore them as an adult.

This article will review each adult vaccine that the CDC recommends. And if you’re not up-to-date, it could make you susceptible to diseases you thought only struck children. And with new outbreaks, like we find with measles, you might find yourself with a childhood disease that strikes harder when you’re an adult.

So let’s look at the five adult vaccines that you should get (in addition to seasonal flu and COVID).

adult vaccine recommendation

Adult vaccine recommendations

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine

The respiratory syncytial virus is a common, contagious virus that causes infections of the respiratory tract. It is a single-stranded RNA virus, and its name is derived from the large cells known as syncytia that form when infected cells fuse.

It usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms and resolves itself quickly. However, it can cause serious lung infections, especially in infants, older adults, and people with certain chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes. For seniors, RSV infections are dangerous as immune systems weaken.

The RSV vaccine is recommended for people over the age of 60 and pregnant individuals (one dose of maternal RSV vaccine during weeks 32 through 36 of pregnancy, administered September through January).

Shingles vaccine

Shingles are caused by the reactivation of the Varicella zoster virus (VZV), which causes chickenpox. Once the symptoms of chickenpox disappear, the VZV remains in the body. VZV “hides” in various nerve cells, and the immune system cannot attack the virus.

As a result of unknown factors, although stress or other infections may be involved, VZV reactivates and moves along the nerve bundles, then causes a second infection, called shingles (sometimes called herpes zoster), which has much more serious consequences to the patient. Even though the body had generated an immune response to the original zoster infection, after several decades, the immune response has either weakened or disappeared.

The reactivated VZV moves along the nerves to the skin. At that point, it causes significant pain followed by a chickenpox-like rash. Usually, shingles happen when the patient is older than 50, although it can happen at any time, occasionally even in young adults. 

Shingles is an entirely unpredictable disease. It appears at random points in time in response to unknown variables.

The CDC recommends the shingles vaccine for adults older than 50, although they also recommend the vaccine for adults older than 19 who have weakened immune systems.

Of course, with recommended chickenpox vaccinations for children, shingles may become a very rare disease.

Pneumococcal vaccines

Pneumococcal disease is any type of illness caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. The bacteria spread through contact with people who are ill or by healthy people who carry the bacteria in the back of their nose.

Pneumococcal infections can be mild or severe. The most common of these infections are:

The CDC recommends the pneumococcal vaccine for adults older than 65. And they also recommend the vaccine for adults older than 19 if they have certain health risk conditions.

MMR II and MMR-V vaccines

The MMR II vaccine is for the prevention of measles, mumps, and rubella. The MMR-V vaccine also includes varicella (chickenpox or shingles).

The CDC recommends the vaccine for adults lacking presumptive evidence of immunity. They should get at least one dose of the MMR combination vaccine. Adults born before 1957 are deemed to be immune because measles, mumps, and rubella were so prevalent in school-aged children at the time.

Tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough vaccine

The CDC recommends the Tdap vaccine, for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) for any adult who never had the vaccine. This should be followed by a booster every ten years.

During every pregnancy, women should have a single dose of Tdap, preferably in gestational weeks 27 through 36.

As to the immediate postpartum period, Tdap is recommended only for mothers who did not receive it during their current pregnancy and never received a prior dose. If a woman did not receive Tdap during her current pregnancy but did receive a prior dose of Tdap, she does not need Tdap postpartum.

person holding three syringes with medicine
Photo by Karolina Kaboompics on Pexels.com

Summary

I know that vaccine hesitancy is on the rise because of a massive disinformation campaign that lacks a single bit of supporting scientific or medical evidence. Following the CDC’s adult vaccine recommendations helps reduce the risk of spread of these vaccine-preventable diseases to adults.

I know there’s a belief that most of these diseases have disappeared or aren’t dangerous. But trust me on this, shingles is not a disease to be taken lightly. Or measles. Or pneumococcal disease. Or anything else I’ve discussed here.

Get your adult vaccines, it might save your life or the life of someone you love.

Michael Simpson
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