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Health Team

Wake health director: 'Vaccines not just for children'

Posted October 10, 2013 7:03 p.m. EDT
Updated October 10, 2013 7:13 p.m. EDT

— Children aren't the only ones who need to stay current on vaccinations to ward off illness. Adults, too, can get diseases like whooping cough or tetanus, even if they were vaccinated as children.

Wake County Human Services employee Dana Weeks recently attended a flu vaccine blitz at her office, but said she knows people who skip the shot because they fear the needle.

"Why be concerned with just a few moments of pain that can save you from getting sick and all the nasty things that come with being sick?" Weeks said. 

Wake County Public Health Director Sue Lynn Ledford said school requirements and the diligence of parents make sure children in North Carolina are getting the right vaccines at the right time.

"We're not doing as well with adults," Ledford said. "Adults still need vaccines, and that's one of the things we tell people on a regular basis, that vaccines are not just for children anymore."

Ledford said too many adults don't see a doctor regularly and aren't aware of their immunization needs. That's why adults get sick with a variety of illnesses, even though there are vaccines available to prevent them.

Adults should get a Td – tetanus and diptheria – booster every 10 years and women should get one with each pregnancy, doctors say. The Tdap – tetanus, diptheria and pertussis – vaccine should be given only once.  

Doctors also recommend the following adult vaccinations:

  • Flu shot annually
  • Hepatitis A (two shots six months apart)
  • Hepatitis B (three shots on day one, 30-day mark and 5-month mark)
  • Pneumococcal at age 65
  • Shingles at age 50