If you are not a child any longer, you might assume that you are through with vaccinations. But, as CBS News Health Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay reports, a lot depends on how old you are and whether you already have had certain diseases.
First are the common childhood diseases (measles, mumps, and rubella, also known as German measles). If you are 43 or younger and you never got vaccinated, you need to see your doctor about getting the single shot that contains vaccines for all three of those diseases. If you don't have a record of vaccination or if you don't remember having these diseases, it wouldn't hurt to get vaccinated anyway.
If you are older than 43 (that is, born before 1957), you are assumed to have natural immunity because just about everybody got the diseases when they were kids.
Measles, mumps, and rubella are rare in adults, but they can be much more severe. Measles can cause encephalitis and pneumonia or even death. Mumps can cause sterility in males who are past puberty. Rubella in pregnant women can cause severe birth defects, miscarriage or death of the baby after birth.
With rubella, it's estimated that as many as five million women are unprotected. Your doctor can test for immunity to the disease and tell you if you need a shot.
Also, two diseases for which we get vaccinated in childhood need to be updated later in life. Tetanus and diphtheria require booster shots every 10 years following the primary three-dose vaccination. If you have a bad wound, you need a booster after five years.
While most people know that they can get vaccinated for influenza, fewer realize that a vaccine is available for pneumonia as well.
"If you're over 65, you should consider it," says Dr. Senay. "Up to 40,000 adults die from pneumonia and the fact of the matter is, this vaccine is not perfect but can help prevent serious complications from pneumonia."
Other vaccines to be considered are those for hepatitis B, a disease transmitted via blood; Lyme disease, if you live in areas where the deer tick transmits the disease; and meningitis, which might be good for college students who want to ward off getting infected in their dorms.
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