Push continues to vaccinate adults for whooping cough, other diseases

While ensuring kiddos are vaccinated, many adults forget an important person: themselves.

Many adults don’t stay up-to-date with immunizations, much less are they aware of which shots they’ve had and whether they’re due for a booster shot.

A local epidemic of whooping cough is bringing the issue to greater attention. The Snohomish Health District has confirmed 105 people have been diagnosed with whooping cough this year and 225 in 2011, including one infant death.

The health district held a free vaccination clinic on Saturday to encourage adults to get vaccinated.

The booster shot for whooping cough protects against the disease and also tetanus and diphtheria.

“About 500,000 people in our community each need a pertussis vaccination in order to knock down this epidemic,” said Dr. Gary Goldbaum, health officer and director of the Snohomish Health District, in a statement. “Even if you’ve had whooping cough or the vaccine when you were younger, you still need the booster vaccine now.”

More than 50,000 adults in the United States die from infections each year that could have been prevented with vaccines, according to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

Vaccines, along with eating healthy foods and exercise, play a role in keeping people healthy. Vaccines are the simplest and safest preventative care measures available.

Like all medications, vaccines can cause side effects. Mild side effects include fever and headaches, and severe effects range from pneumonia to inflammation of the stomach or intestines, according the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Yet getting a vaccination is cheaper than treating the diseases they protect against, such as influenza or hepatitis.

The average case of the flu can last up to 15 days, or five or six missed work days. Adults with hepatitis A miss on average one month of work.

Adults should check with their primary care provider to find out which vaccinations they need or are due for, health workers say.

Tetanus and diphtheria vaccines require booster shots every 10 years. Newer vaccines, such as for human papillomavirus (HPV), shingles, pneumococcus and flu, are advised for certain adults depending on their age, medical profile and exposure to the general public.

Are you up to date?

Here is a list of immunizations most commonly recommended for adults. If you travel outside North America, especially to tropical locations, you may need others as well.

•Flu vaccine, every year. This is especially important for those who have contact with the very young or very old. The vaccine can be done as a shot or, for those between the ages of 2 and 49, a nasal mist.

Tetanus-diphtheria, booster every 10 years. The vaccine to prevent tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough is recommended once for those between ages 11 and 64.

Shingles vaccine, once at age 60 or older.

Pneumococcal vaccine, once at age 65 or older (or earlier if recommended by your provider).

Source: Pacific Medical Center, Lynnwood

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