Doctors reveal threats of adults skipping vaccines

Doctors reveal threats of adults skipping vaccines
Experts are shedding light on why these sicknesses are resurfacing, and how vaccinations can help prevent epidemics. (Source: Katrina Helmer).
Experts are shedding light on why these sicknesses are resurfacing, and how vaccinations can help prevent epidemics. (Source: Katrina Helmer).

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - With the recent outbreaks of measles and other diseases being seen in the U.S., doctors are encouraging adults to get vaccinated.

If you're like a good portion of adults in the U.S., you haven't been keeping up with your vaccinations. As a result, doctors say it's causing more health issues that could be easily avoided.

According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more adults are skipping all kinds of vaccinations that put you at risk for some serious diseases.

"What we're learning is as we mature, our immune systems start to get tired as well," says Dr. Dennis Rhoads, the regional medical director for Doctor's Care Grand Strand. "And our immune system is basically antibodies that we have built up from either infections that we've had in the past or vaccines that we've got. And what happens is as we get older, those antibodies start to die off."

Take tetanus, for example. The CDC recommends adults should get a booster shot every 10 years to protect against the bacterial toxin. The disease causes painful muscle stiffness and can be deadly. But according to the report, not even 63 percent of people between the ages of 19 and 49 got the shot in the past ten years. The percentage drops off the older people get. And local doctors say with an outbreak of whooping cough three or four years ago in the Midwest, it's important all adults over the age of 20 get this shot.

Another shot doctors are hoping more young adults will take seriously is the Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV, shot. Young women can get it until the age of 26. It protects against the most common sexually transmitted disease. HPV is also a known cancer-causer. According to the CDC report, just 36 percent of women between the age of 19 and 26 report getting more than one dose of the shot. It's designed to be used in three doses.

Also, the herpes zoster vaccine is a crucial one that too many adults are skipping over. It prevents shingles, the painful blistering disease that can hit anyone who has had the chicken pox. It most often hits people over the age of 50. According to the CDC report, just 24 percent of people over the age of 60 reported receiving the vaccine. By that age, the majority of the population no longer has the antibodies available to fight back against the disease.

Click here or a full list of shots recommended by the CDC for adults.

Local doctors along with the CDC say they're also seeing that as parents don't want to vaccinate their kids, those kids are then growing up with weaker immune systems because they haven't been exposed to certain diseases or viruses. Dr. Rhoades believes making the choice not to vaccinate will cause more epidemics, and adults will also be at risk.

For kids, there's a very well documented system scheduling their vaccines already built into their doctor visits. That's not necessarily the case for adults, so it's easy to forget. The CDC is calling for doctor's offices to come up with better systems of reminding adult patients they're due for their next round of shots.

Another reason we skip them revolves around cost. There are times when the vaccines can be expensive, around $100 or so. That's costly to you and your doctor. Because a shot that a doctor may only give once or twice a month, isn't worth buying in bulk. So if you know you want to get one, it's just best to call ahead. The health department and your local pharmacy should also have vaccinations available.

"Even though they're not covered, I always tell folks is that even if a vaccine is very expensive, which can be upwards of $100 some of the vaccines, when you stop and think if I'm going to be losing five or six or seven days of work because I have the shingles, is that worth the $100 I had to pay to get the vaccine? And, you know, in my mind I think it's a good trade off because: Number one, you don't lose work. Number two, you don't risk spreading it to other people," Dr. Rhoades says.

There are so many different insurance policies, that you really need to call and check if your shot is covered. Many plans under the Affordable Care Act also cover certain adult shots.

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