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Vaccines Aren’t Just for Kids. These Are Four Vaccines You Should Get as an Adult.

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Four Common Vaccines and How They Work

By Kris Roloff, quality care coordinator at Network Health

It’s no exaggeration to say that vaccines have changed the course of human history. Dangerous and deadly diseases that were once feared, such as smallpox or polio, are now rarely heard about in the United States because of vaccine science. Thanks to this, countless lives have been saved.

You likely received many vaccines as a child, but regardless of age, getting immunized against certain diseases is something to stay up-to-date on throughout your life. Below, we’ll look at some common vaccines that you may consider receiving, how they work and what they do to keep your body healthy.

List of Four Common Vaccines and the Diseases They Prevent

Flu (Influenza)

Influenza viruses infect the respiratory system, causing a mild to severe contagious illness. In extreme cases, influenza can result in hospitalization or even death. In fact, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized each year because of the flu, while thousands die from the illness.

To avoid being one of the millions in the United States who contract influenza during the flu season, it is recommended that you receive the flu vaccine each year. After all, the flu can be contracted by anyone, regardless of age or health status. Young children and those 65 years of age or older, however, may have a higher risk of developing severe symptoms related to the flu. Individuals who are pregnant or have chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart disease may also be more susceptible to the effects of the influenza virus.

Do You Really Need a Flu Vaccine Every Year?

Getting the flu vaccine each year is the best way to avoid getting sick before flu activity peaks, usually in the fall and winter. Unlike other vaccines that you only receive once or receive boosters for once every several years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend individuals receive the flu vaccine yearly if they are 6 months of age or older.

The reason the flu vaccine isn’t a one-and-done shot is because the influenza viruses sparking a flu outbreak can change. Each year, a flu vaccine is engineered to best battle the viruses that are expected to be the most common during peak flu season. The vaccine can reduce illnesses, hospitalizations and time away from work or school.

Pneumococcal disease

Pneumococcal disease is any illness caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. Infections of the bacteria can take place in a number of body parts and systems, including the lungs, sinuses, blood, brain and spinal cord tissue. Two vaccines are available for pneumococcal disease in the United States.

The Two Types of Pneumococcal Vaccines

The first is the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, known as PCV13. The CDC recommends this vaccine for children under two years old, as well as individuals two years of age or older who have certain medical conditions.

The second is the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, otherwise known as PPSV23. The CDC recommends PPSV23 for adults who are 65 years old or older, along with those between 2 – 64 years of age who have certain medical conditions. Adults who are 19 – 64 years of age who smoke cigarettes are also among those for whom the CDC recommends this vaccine.


Shingles is a rash that can produce an intense burning pain. Typically presenting on one side of the body, it is likely to appear on the face or torso. While blisters from the rash usually clear up within two to four weeks, a common complication of shingles is postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), causing the pain to last for months or even years.

As you age, your risk of both shingles and PHN increases. For adults 50 years of age or older, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends the recombinant zoster vaccine (RZV, Shingrix).


Clostridium tetani is the bacteria that causes the tetanus infection. Thankfully, there are four different vaccines available to prevent the contraction of tetanus. Each one immunizes the body against tetanus and other diseases as well.

  • Diptheria and tetanus (DT) vaccines
  • Diptheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP) vaccines
  • Tetanus and diptheria (Td) vaccines
  • Tetanus, diptheria and pertussis (Tdap) vaccines

The CDC recommends the tetanus vaccine for all age groups, but the exact vaccine you should receive varies by age. DTaP or DT is meant for children younger than seven years old, while Tdap and Td is meant for older children and adults. Your doctor can help you determine which tetanus vaccine is best for you or your children.

[Read more: Where Is the Best Place to Get Vaccinated?]

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