Diella Juneau, RN, MScN
Alberta Health Services
Maybe you think vaccinations are just for kids, but the fact is you never outgrow the need to keep your shots up to date. It protects not only yourself but also infants and persons with weakened immune systems. This is called community or “herd” immunity.
The vaccines recommended for you are based on your age, health condition, and other factors, such as your job or where you travel. Even if you were vaccinated as a kid, the protection from diseases you had back then may have decreased over time.
Adults require a tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough booster every 10 years, and should receive the influenza vaccine yearly. According to a survey conducted by the Public Health Agency of Canada in 2014, less than 10 per cent of Canadian adults are actually up to date with immunizations.As we age we often develop chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and heart and lung conditions and our immune systems may get weaker. This puts us at a greater risk for certain preventable diseases such as influenza, pneumonia and shingles.
People with diabetes can develop some serious complications from vaccine-preventable diseases. Influenza can increase your blood sugar to dangerously high levels. And diabetics are at increased risk for developing and dying from pneumonia.
But what about side affects, you may ask. Vaccine side effects are usually mild and go away on their own. Severe side effects are very rare. You are much more likely to develop a vaccine-preventable disease than from experiencing any issues from vaccinations.
The great news is that there are “shots” that can protect you from having to deal with any of these health issues. Your best defense is to get all recommended vaccines at the right time. Vaccines are one of the safest and most effective ways to protect your health.
Talk to your local public health nurse to see what you need to do to be fully protected.
Call Health Link at 811 to be directed to your local public health nursing office.