National Immunization Awareness Month Encourages Lifetime Awareness of Vaccinations
Vaccination Begins In Infancy and Continues Throughout Life
As part of celebrating August as Immunization Awareness Month, the Tennessee Department of Health reminds all Tennesseans that adults, as well as children, need to be up-to-date on immunizations. “Immunization is not just for infants and children, there are important vaccines designed for older adults to protect them from serious infectious disease. Most adults are aware of the need for flu shots to protect the elderly, chronically ill, pregnant women and their families. However, many do not know about other recommended vaccines, including pneumococcal vaccine to prevent certain types of pneumonia and adult boosters for the tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough vaccines first given in infancy,” said Kelly L. Moore, M.D., MPH, medical director of the State Immunization Program. “If you do not keep up with immunizations throughout your lifetime, you are at higher risk for contracting these preventable diseases.” Among vaccines recommended for adults, seasonal flu vaccines must be given every year because they change to adapt to each year’s new flu strains. Pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for adults with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, and everyone 65 and older. Everyone needs a tetanus shot every 10 years; adults younger than 65 should get a tetanus booster shot that also protects against pertussis (whooping cough), which causes a prolonged cough illness in adults and can be life-threatening in small infants. A promising new vaccine to prevent herpes zoster (“shingles”) has just been licensed for adults 60 and over; this vaccine will become more widely available in coming months across the country.
Different vaccines may be recommended for you because of your age and health conditions. The best way to know what vaccines you should have is to talk to your health care provider. Local health departments offer tetanus-containing vaccines to all adults. For a list of local health departments, visit the Department of Health’s Web site at www2.state.tn.us/health/LocalDepts/index.html.