Immunizations Aren't Just for Children

School will soon be back in session and part of getting ready is making sure your child is up-to-date on her vaccinations. But have you ever stopped to think if you’re up-to-date on yours? Vaccinations don’t stop when you turn 12. There are several vaccinations adults need to ward off diseases and stay healthy.

Here’s a quick look at some vaccinations adults need to be aware of:

  • Flu vaccine: The “flu” season will arrive in a few months and everyone should be vaccinated against it on an annual basis. Influenza can become very serious, leading to hospitalizations and even death. When you receive the flu vaccine, you also help stop the spread of the disease and protect those who cannot receive the vaccine for some reason – for example newborns.
  • Meningococcal vaccines: This vaccine, which prevents meningitis, should be on the must-do list for all young adults heading off to college. Meningitis is an infection in the lining of brain and the spinal cord and can be deadly. The disease is contagious and seems to thrive on college campuses. Talk to your teen’s doctor about it before she heads off to college.
  • Tetanus-diphtheria: This vaccination covers tetanus and whooping cough (also known as pertussis). This vaccine should be received once every 10 years and all pregnant women should get the Tdap vaccine (it covers not only tetanus and whooping cough, but also diphtheria) during their third trimester. Whooping cough has been in the news in recent years because of different outbreaks. It can become very serious and even be fatal for newborns, which is why all new parents and those around babies should make sure they are protected against this disease. ThedaCare calls this cocooning, and our birth centers offer this for free thanks to state funding. Tetanus is caused by a bacteria and can cause painful muscle contractions. The bacteria enters the body usually through a cut or scrape, which is why washing them out is so important.
  • Pneumococcal disease: For adults over the age of 65 or those younger with serious health concerns, this vaccine which helps prevent a certain strain of pneumonia is a must. This vaccine can usually be given at the same time influenza.
  • Shingles: This is a relatively new vaccine and is designed for people over the age of 60. It helps prevents shingles, a painful skin rash with blisters that’s caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone who has had chickenpox can develop shingles because the virus remains in the body’s nerve cells and can re-emerge later in life.

As you can see, adults need a number of vaccines. This is just a sampling and based on your personal health history and age, you may need additional ones, including HPV and hepatitis. It’s important to talk with your medical provider about your vaccination needs and what is recommended. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, more insurance companies are paying for all vaccinations – not just those for children. Please check with your insurance provider on your specific coverage, but don’t let cost keep you away from getting these lifesaving vaccinations. There may be county programs where you can also receive the immunizations for a reduced cost.

Immunizations are important to your overall health so it’s important to make sure you’re up-to-date.

Scott Schuldes is a certified family nurse practitioner and associate medical director at ThedaCare Physicians-Hilbert. He can be reached at