Should You Get Revaccinated as an Adult?

Should you get revaccinated as an adult? The simple answer is sometimes. Re-vaccinating adults against certain diseases such as measles, mumps, and whooping cough is starting to make a comeback.

Most of the re-vaccinations that are recommended for adults are to protect themselves or infants too young for vaccination. For example, a student at a college with a mumps outbreak, may be asked to get revaccinated to increase protection and prevent the disease from spreading. ”Immunity wanes over time,” explains Dr. Amanda Cohn, a pediatrician and senior adviser for vaccines at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In adulthood, mumps can cause severely swollen glands and testicles as well as aseptic meningitis, which produces such symptoms as fever, headache, stiff neck and vomiting.

“With measles, anyone who was born after 1957 and received two doses of the measles vaccine in childhood should have lifelong protection,” said Dr. Matthew Leibowitz, chief of infectious diseases at Newton-Wellesley Hospital outside Boston. “People who are unsure whether they got two shots in childhood should get revaccinated if they are traveling to areas where measles is common, including South America, Asia or Africa,” he informs. “Most Americans who get measles now are unvaccinated or undervaccinated,” Dr. Cohn explains, “because they grew up in a country where vaccination was not required, chose not to be vaccinated, are too young for vaccination or have compromised immune systems.”

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a very contagious disease that is most serious for babies. People with whooping cough usually spread the disease by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others. Parents, older siblings, or other caregivers can give whooping cough to babies without even knowing they have the disease.The best way to prevent whooping cough especially among infants, is to get revaccinated. Tdap is the name of the whooping cough booster vaccine for preteens, teens, and adults. This vaccine is especially important for pregnant women. After an expectant mother gets the shot, her body creates protective antibodies and passes some of them to her baby before birth. These antibodies give the baby some short-term protection against whooping cough in early life. This early protection is important because babies can’t get their own vaccine for the illness until they are 2 months old.

Parents want to do everything possible to make sure both their children and themselves are healthy and protected from preventable diseases. Published research shows that vaccination is the best way to do that. Other common vaccines for adults include include an annual flu shot, a tetanus booster every 10 years, the shingles vaccine and the pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine. Are you up to date on your vaccines?

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Read more on this story from The New York Times