|Vinayak Dongre, MD
EDWARD MEDICAL GROUP
We know the kids in the family need shots to hold measles, mumps and assorted other ailments at bay, but we may forget there are some vaccinations that grown-ups need, beyond an annual flu shot. Two of the newer vaccines offer adults important protection against whooping cough (pertussis) and shingles respectively.
Whooping cough brings a nasty cough that can leave an otherwise healthy adult gasping for breath and, in rare cases, requiring hospitalization. Says family practitioner Vinayak Dongre, MD, of Edward Medical Group in Crest Hill, "Getting this vaccine may save you from missing days of work or school. But more importantly, it will help you avoid spreading the illness to those who are more vulnerable." Pertussis is more dangerous for young children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.
Until recently, the recommended follow-up to our early childhood tdap series (tetanus/diptheria/pertussis), was a booster every 10 years (called Td) that covered tetanus and diptheria, but not pertussis.
But the childhood pertussis vaccine was found to wear off in adolescence, and rates of whooping cough in teens and adults rose significantly over the years. Now there's a Tdap booster that includes a pertussis component with fewer side effects for adults than earlier formulations. After you receive this Tdap booster once, you only need a Td booster every 10 years after that.
The one-time shingles vaccination provides protection from the virus that's responsible for chicken pox. In 15 percent of people who have had chicken pox the dormant varicella zoster virus becomes active and causes shingles, with its trademark painful, blistering rash along a nerve on one side of the body.
Says Dr. Dongre, "The new vaccine called Zostavax is recommended for patients 50 and over. The consequences of getting this virus as an adult are much more severe than having chicken pox as a child. In some cases, a condition called post-herpetic neuralgia can cause recurring pain for years after the initial break-out. The vaccine significantly reduces your chances of getting shingles, and if you do develop it, it will be less severe and less likely to result in long-term pain."
To make an appointment with Dr. Dongre or any Edward Medical Group primary care physician, call 630-527-EMG1. Or visit EdwardMedicalGroup.org.