Routine Adult Vaccinations by Alison F. Sims M.D.

Dr.Sims-Janell-newest-300x200A vaccination is an injection of a killed or weakened infectious organism designed to protect you from preventable illnesses.  This summary of routine vaccinations is intended to increase prevention of disease through awareness.


Chickenpox is a common childhood illness that is usually mild, but can lead to hospitalization for complications including skin infections, pneumonia, and even death. Before the vaccination prevented these cases, there were 11,000 hospitalizations every year and 100 people died annually as a result of chickenpox. This vaccine cannot be given to people who have a severe immune system illness like HIV, who are pregnant or plan to get pregnant, and those on cancer treatments or steroid treatments. The brand name is Varivax and you need to see the doctor and pre-order this vaccine at most clinics.


Hepatitis A is a virus that that is spread by water or food contaminated with feces and can cause severe liver disease. It is spread by an infected person who prepared food without washing their hands. It is more common in states with large immigrant populations like CA, NY, and TX. It can cause a severe flu-like illness in adults with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and jaundice (yellow skin or eyes with dark urine). About 1 in 5 people with Hep A will need to be hospitalized and will remain very ill for up to a month. If you did not receive the two shot series of Hepatitis A as a child, then it is recommended in CA.

HPV (Human Papillomavirus) VACCINE

The Human Papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States. It leads to 360,000 cases of genital warts and about 12,000 cases of cervical cancer annually leading to about 4000 deaths. It also leads to cancers of the vulva, tongue, throat, and anus.  Most people do not know they have HPV and the cancer grows over decades. The HPV vaccine prevents about 21,000 cases of cancer annually and is given to men and women before puberty usually at 11 or 12 years old in 3 doses. The brand name is Gardasil and it is necessary to see the doctor to preorder this vaccine.


Meningococcal bacteria can infect the blood or the covering of the brain and the spinal cord and cause meningitis. It is a bacteria that is more common in crowded living situations such as college freshman living in dormitories and the military. It is also more common in Africa and other vacation destinations. Of the 1200 people who contract it in the U.S. every year about 10% of them die despite antibiotic treatment. Those who survive have up to 19% chance of having serious complications such as loss of limbs, or loss of hearing.  Be sure to get this vaccine before entering college or traveling abroad.


Shingles is a recurrent episode of the chicken pox virus acquired in common childhood infections that is hibernating in the spine and reemerges in one nerve (or dermatome) and causes a blistering rash on only one side of the body. It usually happens when the immune system has been weakened by age (over 50), stress, cancer or steroid treatments. The rash lasts 2-4 weeks with disabling pain and it leads to chronic nerve pain in 20% of cases after the rash is gone. The vaccine reduces the risk of having shingles by 50% and is recommended for adults over the age of 50. At least 1 million people every year suffer a case of the shingles. The brand name is Zostavax and a physician will have to preorder it.


Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis are all bacterial infections that can have serious complications.  Tetanus is acquired through a cut, scratch, or wound.  Tetanus is characterized by muscle stiffness that typically involves the jaw and neck that can advance other parts of the body. Tetanus kills 1 in 5 people because muscle spasms of the jaw prevent swallowing (lockjaw). Diptheria and pertussis are spread person to person and can lead to hospitalization for lung and heart problems. Vaccination has led to a 96% drop in tetanus cases, and 99.9% drop in diptheria cases.  Pertussis (whooping cough) outbreaks in 2012 were 41,000 cases and 18 deaths mostly children under the age of 3 years old. The CDC urges all pregnant mothers to get Tdap. Check your tetanus vaccination records and consult with a physician to see if you need a booster.

You can read more about these routine vaccines on the Center for Disease Control website at for a thorough overview that can answer all of your questions.

The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.


















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