Health Journal: I Haven't Had a Vaccine Since High School

Do you need vaccine boosters later in life? Our expert doctor Marianne Legato answers.
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Q. I haven't had a vaccine since high school. Do I need boosters?

Dr. Legato: Absolutely. Several childhood vaccines need to be readministered as boosters later in life. Just as important: Ask your doctor whether you should get any of the newer vaccines, such as varicella (chickenpox), hepatitis, herpes zoster (shingles), or human papillomavirus (HPV), or if you're a candidate for the influenza and pneumococcal vaccines, all of which are administered to adults. Far too few of us are getting these inoculations, according to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. Here are the boosters you need:

Tetanus and Diphtheria
Immunity wanes after age 20, so everyone over 19 should get the booster, called Td, once every 10 years.

Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
Adults ages 19 to 64 need one booster in their lifetime. Called Tdap, it comes with a dose of the Td vaccine (see above). Substitute a Td shot with the Tdap one time.

Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
A booster is recommended for anyone recently exposed to these diseases, plus college students, healthcare workers, overseas travelers, and women who may become pregnant. (Adults born before 1957 and those who have had these diseases are immune.)


Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, April 2008.


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