Nurses know that immunizations save lives by preventing dangerous diseases, especially in children. But what they might not realize is the vaccines are just as important for adults as they are for kids. Not only can adults get vaccine-preventable diseases, they can spread them to the un- and under-immunized, such as infants and immunocompromised individuals.
Nurses are encouraged to review immunization histories for all adult patients, in particular for those living in congregate settings like nursing homes or assisted living facilites where diseases can spread quickly from person to person, or those who have weakened immune systems. Talk to patients and families about the vaccines they are recommended to have, and encourage them to get vaccinated.
Here is a list of what is recommended for adults by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Influenza - Every flu season for people over 50
- Tetanus/Diptheria/Pertussis - Once every ten years for any adult 18-64
- Pneumococcal - One dose for anyone over 65 (or for high-risk adults over 50)
- Varicella - Two doses for any adult who has not had varicella (chicken pox) disease
- Zoster - One dose for adults over 60
Below under More On This Issue are links on information on each of these vaccines, as well as adult immunization initiatives. And remember, nurses should check their own immunization histories, and get vaccinated to protect themselves, and their patients!