You may not realize that adults also need protection from a variety of vaccine preventable diseases. Many vaccines you received as a child may not provide lifelong immunity or protection. Vaccine "boosters" increase, or boost the protection you received as a child. In addition, new vaccines have become available that can protect adults against other serious diseases.
Which vaccinations are recommended for adults?
Two new vaccines are available:
Gardasil, or HPV vaccine, is recommended for young women and men ages 13 to 26. Gardasil can provide immunity to 4 strains of the HPV virus. This virus is responsible for virtually all cases of cervical cancer and many cases of genital warts and oral and anal cancers. To ensure adequate protection, the vaccine should be given long before young adults become sexually active.
Shingles vaccine, or Zostavax, is recommended for adults over the age of 50. Shingles is a recurrence of the chickenpox virus that survived in a person after the childhood disease, and lived quietly in a nerve ending for many years. Occasionally, the virus may become active and cause a sudden outbreak of painful blisters along that nerve ending. Most adults know someone who has suffered chronic debilitating pain as a result of shingles. Zostavax is effective to either prevent shingles or cause the attack to be shorter and less intense.