Keeping up with vaccines beyond babyhood

Claire MccarthyShots are for little kids, right? Actually, no! People of all ages need vaccines to keep them healthy. Yet, according to a recent National Foundation for Infectious Diseases survey, many people, especially teens and young adults (who often avoid going to the doctor) don’t get the vaccines they need. If you are a teen or young adult (or the parent of one), read about a few things to be aware of:

  • TdaP – This protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. A booster every 10 years is recommended.
  • Menactra – This helps prevent an often deadly infection, and is especially recommended for people living in dorms or barracks, where infection can spread easily. Just one dose is needed.
  • HPV vaccine (Gardasil) – This new vaccine can help protect women from cervical cancer. There are three doses, and it can be given until age 26.
  • Varicella (chickenpox) – If you haven’t had chickenpox, you should get vaccinated. Two doses are necessary—many people still need their second dose.
  • Influenza. This is particularly important if you have asthma or certain other health problems. It’s also recommended if you live with someone who does, or with an infant or small child. Your doctor can advise you.

There are other vaccines that might be needed as well (depending on your health and work circumstances), such as hepatitis B, hepatitis A, or pneumococcal vaccine—again, check with your doctor. While you’re at it, make that appointment for a checkup—that’s good for your health, too!
Claire McCarthy, MD, is a primary care physician and the medical director of Children’s Hospital Boston’s Martha Eliot Health Center.

Read more about vaccines for TdaP, meningococcal infections, HPV, varicella, influenza.