Don’t be a Wuss! Get a Shot.

Back in June I discussed numerous safety issues related to four-wheeling. I wanted to offer a reminder, because many four-wheelers were getting back on the trails after being away for an extended period. (See Safety Off-Road Is No Accident.)

Following up on that theme, I thought this is a good time to review your immunizations. While not specifically safety-related, immunizations are an integral part of one’s overall health.

Children receive a series of shots starting soon after birth. Upon reaching adulthood, it’s up to each of us to stay current on our immunizations.

News reports regularly detail the latest steps toward a vaccine to prevent COVID-19. That’s important to know. But we can’t lose sight of the standard immunizations all adults need to know about.

Standard immunizations for adults

Time to update your immunizations. A positive action during COVID-19.

Here are some of the immunizations suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (consult your health care provider regarding your specific needs):

Influenza: annually of course. The CDC does not recommend getting vaccinated in July and August because it is too early to protect against the late season flu. This year both the standard flu shot and the high dose flu shot for age 65 and older are quadrivalent unlike the trivalent flu shots last year. Without getting into the details it means they added vaccination against a 4th strain of influenzas. Put it on your calendar for next month.

TDAP (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis): Should have been given as a child. Adults are recommended to get this shot every 10 years. This one hurts for a few days – I know. Keeping tetanus current is especially important due to the exposure off-road of getting stuck or cut with a dirty tool or nail.

MMR (mumps, measles, rubella): If needed, one or two doses as an adult, through approximately age 60.There is some research that suggests that the MMR vaccine could help prevent septic inflammation in COVID-19 associated with the most severe symptoms. In any case, I think it is good to be refreshed.

 Pneumonia: One dose for smokers and two doses starting at age 65.

There are two types of pneumococcal vaccines.

  • PCV13 or Prevnar13®
  • PPSV23 or Pneumovax23®

For anyone between 19 and 64 who smokes and has not previously received the recommended pneumococcal vaccine, the CDC recommends 1 dose of PPSV23.

CDC recommends pneumococcal vaccination for all adults 65 years or older. You get 1 dose of PCV13 first then 1 dose of PPSV23 at least 1 year later.

The sequence and timing of these shots is complicated enough that you need to review your prior immunizations and consult with medical professionals. But get it done.

The pneumonia shot doesn’t offer protection against COVID-19. Still, it’s important for some people to get the pneumonia shot, regardless of COVID-19. The germs that cause pneumonia are still out there.

Shingles: Two doses one time for adults over 50 who had chicken pox as children.

Shingles – if you have it wait until it heals then get a shot to prevent recurrence.

Zostavax is no longer sold in the United States as of July 1, 2020. It was about 51% effective. It has been replaced by Shingrix which is 90% effective. You need two shots 2 to 6 months apart. If you received Zostavax previously you should get the new vaccine.

You should get the Shingrix shot even if you are not sure if you had chickenpox.

To see the full list of vaccines and schedule, go to https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/imz/adult.html.

Time was, the only place to receive an immunization was at the clinic. Today many pharmacies offer vaccines on a walk-in basis. If your doctor’s office isn’t convenient, call your pharmacy.

Sadly, our nation appears to be slacking on some immunizations. According to the CDC, measles was eliminated from the U.S. in 2000. However, the disease returned. During the first nine months of 2019, the nation recorded 1,249 cases. That was the highest annual number since 1992.

Inspect first-aid kits

This is a good time for a reminder about first-aid kits. They are easily overlooked (forgotten, actually), because they’re buried somewhere and rarely used. First-aid kits are vitally important at home and while off-road.

Inspect yours regularly and restock as needed. Some supplies may be in short supply due to the pandemic. But keep trying. Your first-aid should be ready to deliver when it’s needed.

Immunizations are critical for one’s overall health, as well as the health of the community and nation. With all the attention paid to COVID-19, it’s easy to forget the basic immunizations. Take a few moments to review your medical records. If you’re due for a shot, get in a soon as possible.

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Sources:

Measles info: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/68/wr/mm6840e2.htm

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