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When you think about immunization, it’s probably childhood vaccines that spring to mind, but the kids aren’t the only ones that should be kept up to date. Adults can benefit from topping off previous vaccines to maintain immunity against certain diseases and help protect those around them too.
Vaccines work in one of two ways, building up your personal immunity so your body’s natural defense system can protect you against contagious disease, and what’s known as “herd immunity.” Herd immunity works on the premise that the more people who are vaccinated the better, as it prevents the spread of disease to those with weaker immune systems, such as the very young, elderly, and those with acute illness.
One of the best steps you can take to ensure your overall health and well-being is to keep up to date with your vaccines. A vaccine contains a dead or weakened version of the bacteria or virus that causes the disease being protected against. Your body’s defense system reacts to this “invader” to develop immunity against that disease.
There are minor risks with receiving vaccines at any age, but they are much less severe than the illnesses they’re protecting you against. The myth that having the influenza shot can give you flu is most certainly that — a myth. Although it can give you flu-like symptoms, which are a sign that your body’s defense system is hard at work protecting you against the flu virus.
You should receive the flu shot each year, as the strains of virus that create the illness can vary and mutate from season to season. The World Health Organization changes the strains protected against by the vaccine every year to offer you the best protection possible.
Your immunity against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough) lessens over time, so receiving the TDaP vaccine as an adult will give your immune system that much-needed boost to better protect you against these illnesses. This vaccine is particularly important if you are around babies and young children, as whooping cough is extremely contagious and can create serious breathing difficulties for infants.
Did you know that most of us never get rid of the chickenpox virus we experienced as a child if we were unfortunate enough to succumb to the illness? The virus will remain dormant in your body with no signs of its existence until you develop the telltale painful rash of shingles when it reawakens.
Shingles is a painful illness that typically affects older adults of 50 and above. It’s important to receive the shingles vaccine, as your risk of developing the illness increases rapidly with age, and the older you are, the worse the complications may be. If you have elderly family members or those with compromised immunity, it’s a good idea to get this vaccine to keep them safe too.
There are more than 100 varieties of human papillomavirus (HPV), and some of them can cause cancer of the cervix, anus, penis, vagina, vulva, and back of the throat. The virus is usually transmitted through sexual activity or skin-to-skin contact.
The HPV vaccine has been approved by the FDA for adults up to the age of 45 to protect you against cervical cancer and prevent the virus spreading to others through sexual activity.
If you want to protect yourself and your loved ones against these illnesses, get in touch with Dr. Thomas Sulkowski today for your appointment here at Sulkowski Family Medicine in Murfreesboro.
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