Home > General Info, Preventable Diseases > Immunizations Are Not Just for Kids

Immunizations Are Not Just for Kids

After losing his own child to pertussis, Darryl Dube now knows the importance of adult Tdap boosters.

As a young child I could always depend on my parents to look after me.  Now, as a parent myself, I continually model my own upbringing and do all I can to look after my own children.  But my mother will always be my mother, no matter how old I get and even now she reminds me to take care of myself.  Over the years I’ve realized that as a parent it is possible to be so focused on the needs of your children, that you can fail to take care of your own health.  In the case of immunizations, adults may keep their kids up to date on their recommended vaccines, but at the same time fail to consider the adult immunization recommendations for themselves.

In a recent contribution to the Huffington Post, Dr. William Shaffner explains just how critical adult immunizations are:

Vaccine-preventable diseases kill more than 50,000 U.S. adults annually. That’s more than the number of adults who die each year from either breast cancer, HIV/AIDS, or motor vehicle traffic accidents. Just two vaccine-preventable diseases, influenza and pneumococcal disease, cost society tens of billions of dollars every year in direct and indirect costs — human suffering and financial burdens that could be significantly reduced through vaccination.

The adult death statistics are alarming, which is why I was pleased when Dr. Shaffner went on to explain the following:

Recognizing the need for a national campaign developed specifically to address adult vaccination issues, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), in partnership with leading medical experts and national health organizations, recently launched the Campaign for Adult Immunization at the inaugural National Adult Immunization Summit held in Atlanta, GA.

Clearly, if we want to hep prevent unnecessary adult deaths, than we need to help adults realize that they are at risk and encourage them to prevent illness with immunization.

A look at the latest immunization news reveals just how critical adult immunizations can be.

Adults Get Around    

The way people travel so extensively these days has caused public health to go global.  Wherever we live, we have to recognize that diseases just can’t be contained within a country’s borders.  Consider the recent report of a woman who returned to the U.S. from India, only to expose people in four different communities to measles. Unfortunately, as European countries experience outbreaks of measles, we are left wondering what will the summer Olympics bring?  Most likely travelers who may not be up to date on their immunizations.  In these situations, when an adult returns to the US with an infectious disease, infant children who have not yet received all their immunizations are at risk, as well as pregnant women, immune compromised individuals and adults who are unknowingly under immunized or even unvaccinated.

Once May Not Be Enough:

In the case of measles, sometimes one shot is not enough.  While the MMR vaccine has been shown to provide long-term immunity, it has also been determined that 2-5% of recipients do not respond to the first dose.  However, when given a second dose, 99% of recipients develop evidence of immunity.  This is why the two dose vaccine is currently recommended.  But how many adults are fully aware of their complete immunization history?  It’s entirely possible that adults are unknowingly under immunized.

The same can be said for another contagious disease known as pertussis, or whooping cough.  New recommendations suggest that most everyone be immunized, to include an infant’s initial five dose series of DTaP, adolescent and adult Tdap boosters, as well as boosters for pregnant women and those over 65 who will have close contact with infants.

Unfortunately, there are several states currently experiencing pertussis epidemics.  For example, in WA state where there have been over 2,000 cases reported so far in 2012, compared to 154 in the same period last year.  But even in states that don’t have an identified outbreak, pertussis is still circulating in the community.  Consider recent reports of a student in NY, a rise in cases in NJ, an increase of diagnosis in ME, concerns in Oregon and Idaho and many other states as well.  While being vaccinated is your best protection, this particular vaccine doesn’t provide life-long immunity and studies suggest that the immunity may wane in as little as 5-10  years.  However, it should be mentioned that even if someone has contracted the disease, they are not provided life-long immunity either.  Additionally, while most people will produce the proper immune response after vaccination, there will always be some people who may still fall ill.  Unfortunately, while the DTaP vaccine is 95% effective in preventing diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, it is only about 59-89% effective in preventing pertussis only.  This is by no means an excuse not to be vaccinated, but rather illustrates how persistent pertussis is.  While pertussis occasionally occurs in vaccinated individuals, it is typically less severe with fewer complications than in those who were not vaccinated at all. Considering how dangerous pertussis can be, especially to infants, vaccination, even at a 59-89% effectiveness remains the best way to prevent disease and dangerous complications.

To learn more about the Campaign for Adult Immunizations, check out their complete list of resources on their new website.  Hopefully, this is just one more step towards educating adults about their immunization needs and preventing disease throughout the life span.

  1. Lara Lohne
    June 12, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    As an adult who grew up in an anti-vaccine household, it has been my experience that most doctors don’t consider it a priority to make sure adults are fully vaccinated and remain up to date. I’ve received a booster of the MMR after the birth of my son 5 years ago, and in 2010 received a DTaP booster (even though for me it was the first of its kind I had received). My titers for MMR were low, that’s why the booster after my son’s birth, which I know now was more for his protection then for mine, but they didn’t test me at all before giving me the DTaP, it was just simply time based on my age. Based on my age, I’m not up for any additional boosters so nobody seems concerned about it. When I’ve brought up that I was not vaccinated as a child to many doctors, none seem at all inclined to worry about it. How does one go about helping their own doctor understand the importance of adult vaccinations and not just that of children?

    Like

  2. June 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Lara, what is it that you expect your doctor to say or do about the fact that you were not vaccinated as a child?

    You still had a functioning immune system after all. Vaccines do not correct a defect; they are designed to (potentially) enhance the immune system, and with that enhancement comes documented risks. A vaccine-free individual should not be viewed as one at a disadvantage simply because of a lack of vaccines.

    Lara Lohne :
    As an adult who grew up in an anti-vaccine household, it has been my experience that most doctors don’t consider it a priority to make sure adults are fully vaccinated and remain up to date. I’ve received a booster of the MMR after the birth of my son 5 years ago, and in 2010 received a DTaP booster (even though for me it was the first of its kind I had received). My titers for MMR were low, that’s why the booster after my son’s birth, which I know now was more for his protection then for mine, but they didn’t test me at all before giving me the DTaP, it was just simply time based on my age. Based on my age, I’m not up for any additional boosters so nobody seems concerned about it. When I’ve brought up that I was not vaccinated as a child to many doctors, none seem at all inclined to worry about it. How does one go about helping their own doctor understand the importance of adult vaccinations and not just that of children?

    Like

  3. Kelly
    June 13, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    But an unvaccinated individual is at a disadvantage, Kellie. Because they lack a primary immune response, their immune system is less likely to successfully defeat the pathogen and they will succumb to disease. The disease has documented risks, that occur much more frequently and with more severity than the vaccine.

    As you mentioned, vaccines enhance the immune system by providing this primary response without causing the disease. Vaccinated individuals have an advantage over unvaccinated individuals in preventing disease (or if you like, unvaccinated individuals are at a disadvantage compared to vaccinated individuals in preventing disease), because of this enhanced immunity provided by the vaccine.

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  4. Lara Lohne
    June 13, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Kellie, as a mother and grandmother now, I want to make sure I am not the one potentially compromising my children’s and grandchild’s health. The best way for me to make sure I don’t is to get vaccinated from the diseases I am currently not vaccinated for, that my children and grandchild my also not be fully vaccinated for (while my kids were with me their vaccinations were current, however I don’t believe their dad and step mom have kept them up to date and my grandson is only just 3 years old) that will lessen the likelihood of spreading a VPD that has great potential risk for damage and death, having seen and experienced some of them growing up. What happens also if as I age my immune system becomes compromised and then I get exposed to meningitis or polio? How am I going to survive with never having been vaccinated against these diseases? There is a significant risk with my unvaccinated status, I am well aware of it, and my question is how to express this concern to your doctor so they’ll take you seriously as so many seem to think if you’re not a child, vaccines are nearly as important. I, personally, disagree.

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  5. Lara Lohne
    June 13, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Lara Lohne :
    so many seem to think if you’re not a child, vaccines are nearly as important. I, personally, disagree.

    That is supposed to read: “so many seem to think if you’re not a child, vaccines AREN’T nearly as important… Sorry about that.

    Like

  6. Th1Th2
    June 13, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    My previous comment had been deleted, intentionally.

    As I was saying, Kelly, who does not possess medical qualification let alone has not graduated in any medical sciences should NOT be allowed to discuss or explain human immunology.

    Leave it to lilady and just stay in the kitchen.

    Like

  7. Lara Lohne
    June 13, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Last time I checked, thingy, you weren’t the moderator, therefore you don’t have any authority to tell a person whether or not they can participate in an open discussion. A personal can have knowledge about a topic without ever having gotten a degree or graduated in that particular field of study. That is especially true now with valid information readily available on the Internet.

    Like

  8. Th1Th2
    June 13, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    A personal can have knowledge about a topic without ever having gotten a degree or graduated in that particular field of study.

    For Kelly, that would be her opinion or assertion. Let’s test it, shall we?

    Like

  9. June 13, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    A healthy child, at the biologically normal state of being vaccine-free, is not at a disadvantage. To assert that one is, is nothing more than making a medically popular assumption based on very little evidence, as well as a blatant misrepresentation of vaccine risks and how well they are understood by the medical community.

    Like

  10. June 13, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Lara, being vaccinated is not the only way one can gain immunity, although many would love to have people believe that! People can be clinically immune and/or fully capable of fighting off disease without being vaccinated.

    In addition, vaccines carry health risks which are not well understood by experts. This lack of knowledge makes it impossible to make an accurate risk-benefit analysis. For my family, relying on natural immunity is the safer bet, especially after we witnessed a neurological reaction which resulted in long-term damage in our oldest child.

    Like

  11. Lara Lohne
    June 13, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    researchvaccines, I must ask if you were vaccinated as a child. If you were then you would not have been at risk, nearly as much as an unvaccinated child, of catching a VPD. That would put you, being immune to such diseases, at an advantage over the unvaccinated child. I have suffered VPDs and they did not make me stronger, I had pertussis at 17 which permanently damaged my lungs, giving me asthma like symptoms, but not actually asthma. I am also much more susceptible to respiratory infections in my lungs, bronchitis and pneumonia. I had mumps when I was 6 and that pain is not easily forgotten even though is was nearly 3 decades ago.

    I saw my younger sister nearly die from meningitis which she contracted just before her first birthday. She was 18 months old when she was finally strong enough to be released from the hospital. She is totally deaf in her right ear for life. This does more then disallowing her to hear in stereo, it also throws off her equilibrium, making her prone to falling and even walking into things.

    All that suffering was unnecessary and pointless and completely preventable with vaccines. But my own mother thought getting sick with dangerous diseases would make us stronger, she believed vaccines are dangerous, as you do, and in fact evil. You may believe you are unique in your beliefs but I grew up hearing the exact same things you claim from my mom and none of those beliefs have changed, the only new buzz word is autism, which to me is laughable.

    Do I consider myself at a disadvantage? Absolutely! What if there was an outbreak of polio? I know it’s unlikely due to high immunity from vaccines already, but there are more and more people falling victim to the misinformation and pseudo-science the anti-vaccine activists keep spouting, which greatly increases the chance that other diseases besides measles and pertussis could come back. What happens to me in that case if I’m unable to find a doctor who will immunize me? I feel very much at a disadvantage.

    Like

  12. Lawrence
    June 13, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    @researchvaccines – yes, you can take your chances & catch the actual disease. Perhaps you’ll get a mild case, or perhaps you’ll be 1 in 1000 that gets encephalitis or perhaps you’ll go blind or deaf as a side-effect of the disease.

    Better yet, perhaps you’ll contract rubella during pregnancy & have a stillbirth or a child with major congenital defects. Those are the actual, understood side-effects of “natural” immunity. I would prefer not to let nature decide if I’m one of the “lucky” ones.

    Like

  13. Kelly
    June 13, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    For my family, relying on natural immunity is the safer bet, especially after we witnessed a neurological reaction which resulted in long-term damage in our oldest child.

    Let me guess, your older child has autism and you are representing it as a “neurological reaction” to make it sound like a scary vaccine reaction for others?

    Natural immunity is not a “safer bet”. The risks of disease far outweigh the risks of vaccines, which, despite your ignorance, are well understood by the experts. It is not impossible to make an accurate risk-benefit analysis at all. Vaccine experts have done just that, and the vaccines come out ahead by orders of magnitude.

    Like

  14. lilady
    June 13, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    @ Lara Lohne: Please ignore the insane troll. If Its comment was removed by the moderator, no doubt it was because It has a particular animus directed at parents of disabled children…it is well known for Its insensitive, vile comments and It has been banned from other science blogs, because of Its viciousness.

    You are respected here Lara, for your sensitivity, your honesty and your superb knowledge about immunology and vaccine-preventable diseases. You never lied about your professional background…so different from Thingy who is a liar and who claimed to be a registered nurse, formerly employed in a hospital setting.

    Keep on posting Lara; we all enjoy your comments.

    Like

  15. lilady
    June 13, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    @ Research Vaccines

    @ Kellie Bischof

    So many (wrong) generalizations and so many hypotheses…without any citations.

    Care to remedy this?

    Like

  16. Chris
    June 13, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    “researchvaccines” aka as Ms. Bischof:

    In addition, vaccines carry health risks which are not well understood by experts.

    Since you have done all of the research* you will be able to answer a question I have been asking for years:

    Please tell us exactly how the DTaP and Tdap are more dangerous than diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. Please be sure to document your answer with the title, journal and dates of the PubMed indexed papers. We really need to know how much more of a risk those vaccines carry against the toxins created by those bacterial infections.

    * Your link just goes to a page trying to people to pay for a book, but does not give any information on the quality of science in that book. For one, it does not mention the qualifications of the authors. So please prove that your research is not cherry picking certain studies, using wonky news reports and random websites by answering my question with real scientific evidence.

    Like

  17. June 13, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    @ Chris;

    I did not claim that any vaccine is more dangerous than any disease, so your request is silly.

    As for my book, it is simply a “write-in” journal which allows parents to do his or her own vaccine research in. Why are you opposed to parents becoming informed on vaccines?

    Like

  18. Th1Th2
    June 13, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Please tell us exactly how the DTaP and Tdap are more dangerous than diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. Please be sure to document your answer with the title, journal and dates of the PubMed indexed papers. We really need to know how much more of a risk those vaccines carry against the toxins created by those bacterial infections.

    The Russian Roulette Syndrome. What’s the benefit? You should have stayed in the kitchen Chris and cook something for your sick child.

    Like

  19. Kelly
    June 13, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    Interesting. Why didn’t you use your own book and do your own research then? Doesn’t it seem odd to ask parents to buy your book when it obviously didn’t work for you?

    I highly encourage parents to become informed. Part of being informed is knowing where to go for accurate information (such as here: http://www.who.int/immunization_safety/safety_quality/vaccine_safety_websites/en/index.html) and why “relying on natural immunity” is not the safer bet.

    Kellie (aka research vaccines), by stating that you think natural immunity is a safer bet, you are claiming that the vaccine is more dangerous than the disease. What evidence do you have to support such a claim?

    Like

  20. Th1Th2
    June 13, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    I did not claim that any vaccine is more dangerous than any disease, so your request is silly.

    research[more]vac,

    1. Atypical measles, good riddance KMV vaccine.
    2. Acute encephalopathy courtesy of DTwP vaccine.
    3. SSPE caused by LAMV vaccine.
    4. VAPP, VDPV which are self-explanatory.
    5. Shingles, must be vaccinated to be qualified.
    6. ITP after HepB vaccination.
    7. HHE after DTP vaccine.

    Just a few.

    Like

  21. June 13, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    Kelly, I see you are against parents doing their own research. Interesting.

    Like

  22. Kelly
    June 13, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Again, Kellie, you are mistaken. I strongly encourage people to do their own “research” (aka reading, vaccine research would require a lab that the average person just doesn’t have access to). I even provided a link to credible sites at which to begin.

    All you got is a blank book that you are charging for. You book is apparently as deficient as your research. This is probably due to your lack of skill in reading comprehension.

    Like

  23. Chris
    June 13, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    Ms. Bischof:

    I did not claim that any vaccine is more dangerous than any disease, so your request is silly.

    But I gave the quote where you said “In addition, vaccines carry health risks which are not well understood by experts.” I simply want you to explain those health risks and compare them to the actual diseases, with proper scientific documentation. Are you now refusing to do this, even though you are the one who brought up the lack of understanding?

    Please, make us understand those risks.

    Like

  24. Chris
    June 13, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    Ms. Bischof:

    “write-in” journal

    Does it include any kind of real information like how to use PubMed and how to read a paper? Or even how to evaluate if the researcher is actually qualified to pontificate on the subject? For instance, Gary Goldman has a PhD in computer science, there is no reason to take his research in vaccine safety seriously. The same goes for Mark Blaxill. And to check for conflicts of interests like those for Dr. Jon Poling and Laura Hewitson.

    Does it show how to evaluate information on the internet? Perhaps on how to make sure the person who is promoting an issue and a cure is not trying to make money? For example Boyd Haley (OSR #1, and a long time ago stuff on dental fillings) and Rashid Buttar (trans-dermal chelator) promoting various tests and odd cures.

    But I’d just settle on what actual scientific documentation you have comparing the DTaP/Tdap to the actual diseases since you seem to have brought up that even experts don’t know the risks. Do please enlighten us.

    Like

  25. Lynn Mulder
    June 15, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    You people who vaccinate are complete idiots, follow along and you will be sick just like everyone else who has ever received a vaccine. Vaccines are not designed to help the immune system! They are designed to destroy it! It is a multi billion dollar industry, he’ll bent on keeping everyone sick to then have life long customers! WAKE UP! It all makes perfect sense if you just stop and think logically!

    Like

  26. Kelly
    June 15, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    I’ll gladly stop and think logically. Logic requires you to support your claims with evidence. Please provide the evidence that supports your claim that vaccines destroy the immune system.

    Also provide evidence to support your claim that vaccinated people are more sickly than unvaccinated people. Current knowledge shows no difference in overall health, except that unvaccinated people are more likely to get sick with a vaccine preventable disease than vaccinated people.

    Please note that an opinion posted on an anti-vaccine website or blog is not evidence. I want the Pubmed ID numbers to the primary literature so I can think for myself. Thanks.

    Like

  27. Chris
    June 15, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    Ms. Mulder:

    It is a multi billion dollar industry, he’ll bent on keeping everyone sick to then have life long customers!

    Please explain with supporting verifiable scientific evidence how a tetanus booster with or without the pertussis (Tdap) will make a person sick for the rest of their life.

    What is your proposal to protect infants from pertussis? Again, please make sure you support your statement by posting the title, journal and dates of the PubMed indexed papers that show your proposed solution can actually work. Because we really don’t want to see any more babies die horribly from pertussis.

    Like

  28. Nathan
    June 15, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    They are designed to destroy it! It is a multi billion dollar industry, he’ll bent on keeping everyone sick to then have life long customers! WAKE UP! It all makes perfect sense if you just stop and think logically!

    This is supposed to be perfect-sense logic? Sounds more like hysteria.

    Like

  29. Lara Lohne
    June 15, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Is it me or does Lynn Mulder sound a lot like Jiri? I wonder if her next comment will be stating how insulting we are, how hateful and how argumentative. Just want to make sure it’s pointed out, in her first sentence, she says, “You people who vaccinate are complete idiots” I may be wrong, but that, to me sounds insulting, hateful and argumentative.

    Like

  30. Nathan
    June 15, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    Oh, it’s definitely all of those things, Lara. We get plenty of antivaccine folks here who like to assume multiple identities, but really they all start to sound the same after a while anyway.

    Like

  31. Lara Lohne
    June 16, 2012 at 12:08 am

    Is that their newest way of making it seem like there are more of them then those who don’t believe what they say? Just sad actually, that they can’t ever be honest and straight forward.

    Like

  32. lilady
    June 16, 2012 at 12:29 am

    Is that their newest way of making it seem like there are more of them then those who don’t believe what they say?

    You got it, Lara. Their use of sock puppets is deliberately calculated to *impress* others that their POV has support. They also use sock puppets to abandon one persona that has been called out for the ignorance and their deplorable citationless statements.

    Like

  33. lilady
    June 16, 2012 at 12:32 am

    Is this you Lynn Mulder, posting on an anti-vax Facebook page. Sure sounds your inanities and your conspiracies.

    Like

  34. Chris
    June 16, 2012 at 12:56 am

    The use of sock puppets is common with those who have no real evidence. On one forum I frequent a person can be banned for creating a sock puppet. On some blogs where it is found that one person has created several identities to make it seem to have more support, they can be banned. Like here:

    Allen, this is your only warning. No sock puppets are allowed on this blog. Pick a pseudonym and stick with it or be banned. I don’t give a rodent’s posterior what you say about me or how much you disagree with me. I do, however, care when trolls infest my comments and morph into different identities.

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