Vaccines aren't just for kids, a doctors' group says.
"Many adults are not aware that they need vaccines throughout their lives and so have not received recommended vaccinations," Dr. Robert McLean, president of the American College of Physicians, said in a college news release.
"Adults should get a seasonal flu shot and internists should use that opportunity to make sure their patients are up to date on the latest recommended immunizations," he advised.
Along with an annual flu shot, other important adult vaccinations include: Tdap to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough; pneumococcal to protect against pneumococcal pneumonia, bacteremia and meningitis; HPV (human papillomavirus) to prevent cervical, anal and other cancers; hepatitis B; and herpes zoster to help prevent shingles.
Each vaccine should be given according to guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
"Vaccines are safe, effective and help prevent illness, hospitalization and even death, especially among the elderly and those with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems," McLean said.
"Physicians should conduct a vaccine needs assessment with their patients regularly. People who cannot get a flu shot or other vaccines for medical reasons should talk to their internist about other ways of protecting themselves," McLean recommended.
August is National Immunization Awareness Month.
The latest ACIP-approved adult immunization schedule and recommendations appear in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Earlier this year, ACIP recommended raising the upper age for catch-up vaccination against HPV in men to age 26 years -- the same as in women -- and recommended that patients aged 27 to 45 talk to their doctor about receiving the vaccine.
ACIP also recommended that the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) be given "based on shared clinical decision making" in adults 65 and older who do not have a weakened immune system and who have not previously received PCV13.
All adults 65 and older should receive the 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23), according to ACIP.
ACIP's recommendations must be reviewed and approved by the CDC. The final recommendation will be published in an upcoming issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on adult vaccines.