Vaccinations for Your New Year: January 14, 2012

It’s a New Year and time to roll up your sleeves and take charge of your health, beginning with an annual physical.

“Even if nothing seems to be going wrong you should go in for that annual checkup to be sure that you are healthy and that you're not developing any risk factors for chronic disease,” says Dr. Sal Lacagnina, Vice President of Health and Wellness for Lee Memorial Health System.

Wellness experts see a great value in keeping up with adult immunizations.

“Vaccines are not just for children,” says Dr. Lacagnina.

The seasonal flu shot is a well-known and highly recommended vaccination for all ages, but the pneumonia vaccine can also be a lifesaver for older adults.

“As you get older and certainly above sixty-five, you should have a pneumonia vaccine, again a highly contagious disease that can cause hospitalizations and death,” says Dr. Lacagnina.

Most people only need the shot once, it lasts up to ten years and protects against both viral and 88% of the bacteria that cause pneumonia. The shingles or zoster vaccination is advised for people over sixty, but is often overlooked.

“People don’t jump at it like they would the flu vaccine,” says Dr. Lacagnina.

But it may eliminate the discomfort and pain that comes with this nerve affecting illness. People who had had a flare up in the past can still get this vaccination.

“The people who come to me who are most interested are the people who have had shingles themselves or family members with shingles. They’re the ones that say ‘wow’ this is a really painful problem and I don’t want this I’m going to do everything that I can to get rid of it,” says Dr. Bruce Lipschutz, an internal medicine physician with Lee Memorial Health System.

Another shot to consider is the Tdap, which is tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

“Pertussis is a disease that's on the rise right now, whooping cough, and so most adults may need a shot for that also,” says Dr. Lacagnina.

Your doctor can best point you to the proper immunizations. When it comes to your health, they are worth a shot.