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Published on August 18, 2015

little girl giving her teddy bear a play shot

Protect Your Family: Immunize

Fall is back-to-school time and that means the rush is on to get kids in for annual physicals and immunizations. Children and teens aren’t the only ones who have to worry about keeping up with their shots — adults also are at risk for illnesses easily prevented by immunization.

Ashley VanDyke, DO, Family Medicine Physician at Avera Medical Group 69th & Cliff, said some vaccinations, including tetanus and pertussis need to be updated every so often throughout adulthood for continued immunity.

“We want kids to stay healthy, but part of ensuring your child’s health is also staying healthy yourself,” VanDyke said. “Immunizations for things such as the flu and whooping cough can do just that.”

Here’s a rundown of which immunizations are necessary at certain ages.

Recommended Immunizations per Age Group

  • Before kindergarten (ages 4 – 6), your child should receive four vaccines: DTaP prevents tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough) and diphtheria (bacterial infection); MMR protects against measles, mumps and rubella; varicella wards off chicken pox; and polio vaccine.
  • Fifth and sixth graders (ages 11 – 12) are recommended three vaccines: Tdap, the booster immunization against tetanus, pertussis and diphtheria; HPV vaccine that prevents several types of cancers; and meningitis vaccine.
  • Sophomores through seniors (ages 16 – 18) should visit their physician for a meningitis booster.
  • Adults (ages 19 – 60) should get a TdaP booster every 10 years.

Protecting Against Whooping Cough

In recent years, an increasing number of children and infants have been diagnosed with whooping cough, a respiratory sickness that is highly contagious. The number of pertussis cases reported in 2014 increased 18 percent from the previous year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Many infants who get pertussis get it from caregivers and siblings who might not even know they have the disease.

“One of the best ways to stop the spread of whooping cough in infants is to ensure parents, family members and anyone coming into contact with baby has been vaccinated,” VanDyke said. “Ask your provider if you are in need of a Tdap booster, especially if you are around infants and children.”

Adults (ages 60 and older) should discuss with their doctor shingles and pneumonia vaccinations. Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. The same virus that causes chicken pox causes it. If you’ve ever had chicken pox the virus can reactivate years later as shingles.

CDC recommends yearly flu vaccines for anyone over 6 months of age, and the optimal time to become vaccinated is the fall to allow your body time to develop antigens. People at higher risk for flu complications include those over age 65, those with chronic conditions, pregnant women, and young children under age 5.

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