Vaccines: Not Just For Kids

Whooping Cough: Known as pertussis, this disease has made a comeback. The number of pertussis cases ranks in the thousands each year in the United States and can cause death. The most common problem is that it can be easily passed on to infants from unvaccinated adults. Vaccine manufacturers have included a pertussis component to the tetanus-diphtheria vaccine (another vaccine adults should also get) so you can easily get a pertussis vaccine the next time you go in for a tetanus booster. Richard Lee, M.D., professor of medicine at the State University of New York at Buffalo, says everyone should get vaccinated against whooping cough every 10 years. It is covered by insurance.

Shingles: For anyone who had chicken pox as a kid, there's a significant risk of developing shingles as an adult. The disease causes intense nerve pain in half of adults in their 50s who get shingles, and that pain can linger for years. A new vaccine can dramatically reduce the risk of this painful condition. Called Zostavax (Zoster Vaccine Live), the vaccine can cut the risk of developing shingles by more than half. In those who get shingles despite being vaccinated, it lowers the incidence of persistent nerve pain by two-thirds. Zostavax is covered by insurance for those ages 60 and older, but younger people can pay for the vaccine out of pocket. It should not cost more than $200.

Chicken Pox: You've never had the chicken pox -- should you get vaccinated now? Yes, say researchers. Of the 10 percent of women of childbearing age who did not have the disease as kids and have not been vaccinated against it, researchers say the chicken pox vaccine is a must. They recommend receiving the vaccine before trying to conceive since contracting chicken pox while pregnant can cause damaging birth defects. Other adults may want to consider the vaccine as well, as the complications from chicken pox are worse for adults than kids and can cause death. The vaccine is called Varivax (Varicella Virus Vaccine Live) and is covered by most insurance plans.

The Flu: It may sound like a broken record, but the flu shot is vital for many adults. "We've had three major influenza pandemics in the 20th century," Dr. Lee told Ivanhoe. "We are due for another." Not only will the flu shot offer protection against the circulating flu strains each year you get it, but it offers protection against a major pandemic should one occur. Insurance should cover the vaccine for those in high-risk groups such as kids, health care workers and adults with chronic diseases, but anyone can get it.

Hepatitis B: There are two vaccines available that can protect against this virus. Hepatitis B is spread through sexual contact or by infected blood. About 5,000 of the nearly 80,000 Americans who contract hepatitis B each year will die from it. The vaccine is recommended for anyone who is not in a long-term monogamous relationship.

MORE TO CONSIDER: Other vaccines available to adults that could prove life-saving include the following: Hepatitis A, human papillomavirus (HPV), measles, meningococcal, mumps, pneumonia, polio and rubella. The CDC recommendations can be found at

For other medical research, visit Ivanhoe Broadcast News on the Internet:

? For More Information, Contact:

John Della Contrada
Media Relations
The State University of New York at Buffalo
Buffalo, NY
(716) 645-5000 ext. 1409

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