The answer to the question “do adults need vaccinations?” is a resounding yes! In light of the flooding in many areas of the Gulf Coast and the health issues that has brought with it, and with approaching winter, the importance of immunization is only increasing for adults.

It is vital that all Texas seniors line up for a shot that could save them or their loved ones pain, lasting impairment and even death.

Many adults believe that vaccinations are not for them — that vaccinations are only for kids. They live with the false belief that they are not under threat of some diseases and are, due to their age, immune. But that just isn’t true. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend adults 65 and older get immunized against pneumonia. Yet, a 2015 study showed that 40 percent of seniors have not received the vaccine.

There are several vaccines adults 19 years and older need to receive in order to protect themselves and others from potentially life-threatening illnesses. Those vaccines include flu, meningitis and T-DAP (which stands for Tetanus Diphtheria and pertussis, or whooping cough).

I was recently surprised, on the first day of Harvey flooding, to see adults lined up for tetanus shots in the emergency center where my husband, age 86, was having X-rays after a fall. These were the last minute participants who had stepped on a sharp object hidden by the floodwaters. Some had never taken time to have a tetanus shot and now, when time was of the essence for everyone in the flood zones, here they were, waiting for a shot.

Do you have a child or close relative in college? Worry about them if they have not had a meningitis vaccine, including the meningitis B vaccine. Outbreaks of meningitis B on college campuses in recent years underscores the need for adult immunizations.

If you know an adult living with a chronic disease like asthma, HIV/AIDS, COPD, liver, kidney or heart disease please remind them their risk of being under-vaccinated could cost them their life. A possible one-third of adults struggling with a chronic disease are at great risk of contracting the potentially deadly pneumococcal disease … avoidable with a single shot.

Annually, adults who neglect having vaccinations cost society billions of dollars in treatment, hospitalizations and loss of productivity. Ask your health care provider if there are vaccinations which you should be getting besides flu and ask them if there is a plan that might help you pay for those shots. Be safe and stay well.

Betty Lee Streckfuss is an emeritus member of the Texas Silver-Haired Legislature.

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