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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Adult Immunizations
March 2000

Q. What immunizations does an adult need?

A. If we neglect for a minute special immunizations for those who travel (e.g., the hepatitis A vaccine) and those who have a special condition (e.g., those without a spleen need a pneumococcal vaccine) there are still several vaccines an adult needs.

Currently, it is recommended that all adults get a tetanus shot every 10 years. This is to help prevent lockjaw.

Hepatitis B is recommended for all adolescents. Young adults who are likely to come in contact with bodily fluids should consider this vaccine, too.

The pneumonia shot (a shot for pneumoccocal pneumonia) is recommended for everyone with certain chronic diseases (especially heart and lung problems) and for everyone older than 65 years.

The flu shot is also recommended for all adults with certain chronic diseases and for those who are older. The standard recommendation for a flu shot is for those over the age of 65 years, but the American Academy of Family Physicians recommends the shot for everyone over age 50 years.

You can learn more about adult immunizations from the National Coalition for Adult Immunizations at http://www.nfid.org/ncai/.

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