Booster vaccines – Do you need them?

After childhood, there are some vaccines you will need as an adult. These vaccines are repeated throughout your lifetime as booster vaccines for extended immunity.

Some may feel that these booster vaccines are not necessary. However, it is important to know why they are administered and how important they are.

Why booster vaccines will benefit you

We are currently in a global pandemic. However, it is very possible to contract more than one disease at a time. You could contract the flu, pneumonia and COVID-19 at the same time. Minimising the chance of one, or all three, will greatly benefit you.

Vaccines may have a variety of “unseen” benefits. By not getting sick, a person will:

  • Miss less work
  • Have a less complicated pregnancy
  • Spend less on medical expenses
  • Not infect family
  • Contribute to herd immunity
  • Be healthier over all
  • Not exacerbate underlying health conditions

I already had a flu shot last year?

The flu virus mutates each year. As it mutates in Europe during their winter, it is monitored. The vaccines are adjusted accordingly, and we get updated vaccines just in time for our winter. The process repeats here. Every year, our vaccines are slightly enhanced. It now also covers the swine flu strain. A few years from now, it may even cover the COVID-19 strains.

Types of booster vaccines to get

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines can be administered to preteen girls from the age of 11. It should be administered before the age of 26. This vaccine can prevent a variety of cancers and diseases around the genital area
  • A pneumonia vaccine should be taken every five years after the age of 60
  • A meningitis vaccine can be taken before the age of 16, and again at 18. This is recommended to teens living in hostels or shared living spaces once they go to university
  • A shingles vaccine is recommended after the age of 50
  • Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccines are recommended for every adult. Another should be given after week 27 of each pregnancy a woman may have. This will help minimise the chances of whooping cough
  • If you are an adult you might not have evidence of all your vaccine records as a child. You may have a blood test done to check if you are immune to hepatitis, meningitis, chicken pox, measles, mumps and rubella. If you do not have immunity, you can vaccinate against these
  • A yearly flu vaccine is recommended for everyone from the age of six months

When not to get a vaccine

If you are at all ill, using antibiotics or have a fever, it is best to wait until you are in good health. If you have any autoimmune diseases, ask your doctor for advice. Some are able to get their vaccines, however it may not be safe for others who may have a more compromised immune system.

To remember

You cannot over-vaccinate. Your body can never make “too much” antibodies against a specific disease.