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Adults need vaccinations, too

Most adults can recall those days as a child when Mom or Dad took them to the doctor's office to get their vaccinations. Less memorable are the times Mom and Dad got their own vaccinations. As a result, many adults assume vaccines are just for kids and that the vaccines received as a child are enough to protect them for the rest of their lives. But as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention point out, the vaccines received as a child aren't always enough to last a lifetime.

There are many reasons adults need to be vaccinated, even if they received vaccinations as a child. One of those reasons has to do with aging. As the human body ages, it becomes more susceptible to serious disease caused by common infections (including the flu). Another reason is that the immunity a vaccination provides can fade over time. In addition, newer vaccinations were not available when some of today's adults were kids.

When considering a vaccination, adults should discuss the issue with their personal physician. Some of the more common vaccinations include:

* Seasonal influenza: The CDC recommends all adults get one dose of the flu vaccine every year, preferably in October or November before the onset of flu season. The flu vaccine is especially necessary for men and women who work in a health care setting, are suffering from a chronic illness or are living in a longterm care facility. However, those who are allergic to eggs or have had a previous allergic reaction to the flu vaccine should not be vaccinated.

* Pneumonia: The pneumonia vaccine is necessary for men and women who:

- are age 65 or older

- have a chronic illness or weak immune system

- smoke

- have had their spleen removed

- live in a longterm care facility

Men and women who are currently ill or those who experienced an allergic reaction to a previous pneumonia vaccine should consult their physician before being vaccinated. In most cases, such illness or prior history means men and women should not be vaccinated.

* Meningitis: Adults who did not get the meningitis vaccine as a child or adolescent should consult their physician about getting the vaccination as an adult. Under certain conditions, including living in a dormitory for the first time or frequently traveling to countries where meningitis is common, it's best for adults to get the vaccination. Men and women who had their spleen removed should also get the vaccination. However, men and women who are currently ill should avoid the vaccination, and those with Guillain-Barre syndrome should consult their physician before being vaccinated.

* Chickenpox: Some people make it to adulthood without ever getting chickenpox. If they also made it to adulthood without getting the chickenpox vaccine then they should get it as an adult as long as they're not pregnant, currently ill, have a weak immune system, or might become pregnant within four weeks of being vaccinated. After the first dose, a second does will be administered four weeks later.