Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Want to Cut Down your Future Health Care Cost? Act Now and Get Vaccinated!

Vaccines are a cost-effective way to reduce health risks, but they are often overlooked by adults.

Many family practitioners do not check their adult patients’ immunization history on a routine basis. Hence, most patients are not urged to stay on top of their routine immunizations.

Unlike vaccines for infants and children, most adult vaccines generally aren't stocked by primary care doctors, with the exceptions of influenza and pneumonia shots, which usually are covered under preventive care. For other vaccinations, patients often must pay out of pocket until they meet a health plan's deductible, or pay upfront and seek reimbursement.

Medical experts recommend an annual flu shot and a TdaP (tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis) booster every 10 years for everyone over 18. Many people know that, but still don't get those shots.

There are eight other vaccines recommended for many adults, depending on age, sex, current health and whether they had or were vaccinated against certain diseases as a child. Here's a chance to get up to speed. Passport Health, the leader of travel medical services and immunizations in the U.S. carries all vaccinations from the flu shot to more exotic vaccines such as yellow fever.

Here's what's recommended by the federal government, listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:


Influenza, Can trigger dangerous pneumonia. One dose a year now recommended for all adults. Besides injections, a nasal spray vaccine (Flu Mist) is available for healthy adults, except pregnant women.

Tetanus/diphtheria/whooping cough (pertussis). Generally, one dose every 10 years; when vaccine status is unknown, as soon as possible for women who have just given birth and anyone caring for patients or infants.


Chicken pox (varicella), Two doses from age 19 up, or a booster shot if you've had one shot. Generally not needed if you were infected with chickenpox as a child.

Hepatitis A, Liver infection caused by contact with contaminated food, water, stool or blood. Two doses from age 19 up, mainly for: injection-drug users, men who have sex with men, patients with chronic liver disease or taking clotting-factor medicines, those traveling to or working in countries where hepatitis A is common.

Hepatitis B, Liver infection spread mainly by sex with an infected person and sharing of contaminated implements (drug, tattoo or acupuncture needles; toothbrushes, razors, nail clippers). Three doses from age 19 up.

Hepatitis A and B combination

Human papilloma virus. Spread by sexual contact, it can cause vaginal, anal and mouth cancers and genital warts. Three shots needed over six months. Best before initial sexual activity. Gardasil is approved for females and males aged 9-26.

Measles/mumps/rubella (German measles). One or two shots from 19 through 49, then a booster, for anyone born after 1956, unless they have lab tests showing immunity from prior infection or vaccination. Second dose is needed after four weeks if exposed to a measles or mumps outbreak. Rubella protection is particularly needed before pregnancy.

Meningococcal disease. Causes bacterial meningitis and bloodstream infections, which are uncommon but can Kill or disable quickly. Two-dose series recommended mainly for new college students, military recruits, people without a healthy spleen.

Pneumococcal disease. Causes painful ear and sinus infections, pneumonia, bacterial meningitis and blood stream infections. One dose from age 65 up if immunity isn't certain, or one or two doses from age 19 through 64, then a booster dose. Mainly for smokers, nursing home residents, people with lung or heart disease, diabetes, HIV and other immune conditions, liver diseases, alcoholism, or damaged or removed spleen.

Shingles (herpes zoster). One dose from age 60 up to prevent shingles, a painful, blistering skin rash caused by the chicken pox virus.

It's difficult to quantify how much money one might save by getting vaccines but some of these infections can bring very high medical expenses and leave people too sick to work.

For example, treatment for a yearlong outbreak of shingles pain easily exceeds $5,000, and serious complications requiring hospitalization can add another $20,000. Removal of precancerous lesions that might be prevented by the HPV shot can run well over $700, and treatment would cost far more if cancer developed.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently called new vaccines one of the top public health achievements of the last decade. It cited record lows in the number of reported cases of hepatitis A, hepatitis B and chicken pox, along with the introduction of multiple-strain pneumococcal vaccines.


CDC schedule with detailed recommendations for who should get vaccines

1 comment:

  1. I think that was a scam to get more money. See, the poor politicians don't have enough, and they need to borrow more.

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