Woman happy after getting covid 19 vaccination

Adults Need Vaccines Too

Often we associate vaccinations with young children, but adults need to keep their vaccinations up to date, too. Did you know that immunity from childhood vaccines can wear off over time? Adults are also at risk for different diseases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), thousands of American adults get sick each year from diseases that vaccines can prevent. August is Immunization Awareness Month and an excellent time to speak with your health care provider about what vaccines are vital for you.

All adults need:
• Influenza (flu) vaccine every year
• COVID-19 vaccine
• Td or Tdap vaccine

Older adults may also need:
• Pneumonia
• Shingles

You may need other vaccines based on your age, health conditions, job, lifestyle or travel habits. Talk to your health care provider and find out more about what other vaccines may be recommended for you.

Different vaccines work in different ways, but every vaccine helps the body’s immune system learn how to fight germs. It typically takes a few weeks for protection to develop after vaccination, but that protection can last a lifetime. A few vaccines, such as those for tetanus or seasonal flu, require occasional booster doses to maintain the body’s defenses.

“Some patients have concerns about vaccine ingredients or may have heard inaccurate information,” says Dr. Steven Pearman, Vice President of Medical Operations with Sentara Health. “I recommend you speak with your care provider to seek information from a credible source.”

Your care provider can also address specific concerns such as potential allergic reaction to an ingredient in a vaccine, Dr. Pearman adds.

Vaccines, like medicine, can have some side effects. But most people who get vaccinated only have mild side effects or none at all. The most common side effects include fever, tiredness, body aches, and redness, swelling and tenderness where the shot was given. Mild reactions usually go away on their own within a few days. You can also get safety information by vaccine from the CDC website.

Vaccine Safety Safeguards

The United States currently has the safest vaccine supply in its history. We have safeguards in place to ensure that vaccines are as safe as possible. For example, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) serves as the nation’s early warning system to monitor for potential vaccine safety problems. This is one component of the United States’ comprehensive vaccine safety monitoring system.

How do vaccines prevent disease?

Immunization occurs when the body is exposed to germs that cause a certain disease. The body responds to this exposure by forming certain proteins, called antibodies, to fight those germs. Germs in vaccines are dead or very weak, so they will not make you sick. However, the antibodies that your body makes will stay in your body for a long time. This improves the ability of your immune system to fight the germs in the future. If you get exposed to the germs again, your body may be able to resist them because you have developed immunity against them. This is because your antibodies recognize and destroy the germs to prevent illness or allow your body to have a milder illness.

Keep in Mind

Not everyone can be vaccinated. Very young babies, people who are very sick, or older people may not be able to get vaccines. Talk to your caregiver about what vaccines are appropriate for you. By getting immunized, you not only protect yourself, but you help your family and friends and others who are not able to be vaccinated.

More Information

• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
• World Health Organization