These days, we know at least one or two people trying to improve their health and wellness. They are exercising more, eating better, and making healthier lifestyle choices. But many adults are not aware that a key part of being healthy includes staying up-to-date on your vaccinations. Vaccines help protect you and those around you from diseases. That’s why vaccines are an important part of a well-rounded approach to adult wellness.
What Are Vaccines and How Do They Work?
Your immune system keeps you healthy and fights off infectious diseases. Antibodies are an important part of the immune system. They recognize and help destroy invaders, such as viruses or bacteria.
If you have antibodies for an infectious disease, it means your body can often defend itself against that disease or infection. You can produce antibodies to an infectious disease two ways: by being exposed to the disease itself or by getting a vaccine. A vaccine can trigger your immune system to make antibodies that help protect you.
When you get vaccinated for certain diseases, you can help protect more than just yourself. Certain vaccinations are recommended to help prevent you from spreading the disease to others. All vaccines carry some risk for side effects, which you should discuss with your doctor before being vaccinated.
Adults may need vaccines for several reasons:
- The protection provided by some childhood vaccines fades over time.
- Some adults are not fully vaccinated.
- New vaccines have been developed that were not around during the childhood of many adults.
- Adults may be at greater risk for some infectious diseases as they get older.
- Vaccines can help adults avoid spreading disease to others. Some illnesses require yearly vaccinations for protection.
About 50,000 adults in the United States die each year from diseases that might have been prevented by vaccines. In fact, adults are more likely than children to die of some diseases that vaccines can prevent. That’s why you should talk to a healthcare professional about helping to protect yourself with the appropriate vaccines.
In addition to exercising, eating right and getting enough sleep, adults need to make sure they are up-to-date on their vaccinations. Vaccines aren’t just for children. Getting vaccinated helps protect you from many diseases such as flu, pneumonia and whooping cough. Getting vaccinated may also help you avoid spreading disease to those you love. Talk with your healthcare professional. Make sure your vaccines are up-to-date and complete. If you have children, make sure they are up-to-date on their recommended vaccines as well. Vaccines are a way to help maintain your own health and help protect the health of those around you.
Dr. Pichardo-LaFontaine is with Baylor Scott & White Medical Center– Round Rock.
By Gabriela Pichardo-LaFontaine, MD, Internal Medicine