4 Vaccines Every Adult Needs

Think you've outgrown the need for vaccines? Think again.Think you've outgrown the need for vaccines? Think again.By the Editors at Sharecare

Forget the kids: A recent study by Walgreens shows that nearly half of U.S. adults are unaware of government-recommended vaccinations for their age and health condition. More than 40,000 adults die every year from diseases they could have avoided with a simple vaccine.

How about you? Do you know what shots you should be getting? Ask your doctor about these four:

1. An annual flu shot. Not only does the vaccine help you avoid the flu, it reduces your risk of heart disease, according to Michael Roizen, MD, cofounder of RealAge and chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic. The shot takes about two weeks to start working, so get it as soon as it's available so you're protected throughout the flu season.

What's your excuse? 6 reasons you need a flu shot this year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend flu shots for everyone 6 months and older, with few exceptions. If you're allergic to eggs, for example, or have had a severe reaction to a flu shot in the past, it's not for you.

2. The whooping cough vaccine. The U.S. has seen an alarming rise in whooping cough (pertussis) cases -- the worst outbreak in decades. The condition isn't fatal in adults, says Mehmet Oz, MD, "but it can cause coughing for months and may result in broken ribs."

Ouch! Doctors say the main reason for the outbreak is too few adults are getting their whooping cough booster shots. The best way to stay protected is to get your every-10-year tetanus booster, which usually includes a pertussis and diphtheria booster, says Sharecare expert Kelly Traver, MD.

3. A shingles vaccine. Get the shingles vaccine if you're over 50. If you had chickenpox as a kid, you need this one, since shingles (zoster) is painful form of inflammation caused by a reawakened chickenpox virus. As if that's not bad enough, a bout of shingles also raises your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other health problems.

Is the shingles vaccine safe? Here's Dr. Oz's answer.

4. Pneumonia vaccine. This is another one you need if you're 50. And you'll need a booster every 10 years. Avoiding this nasty lung infection that kills 50,000 people every year is reason enough. But there's an added benefit to the pneumonia vaccine: This one also helps your heart, too, by inhibiting inflammation that can lead to heart disease.

Here's why you don't want to catch pneumonia.

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