COLUMBIA — Medical professionals on Thursday said adults generally need few booster shots but should consult with their doctors.
Trina Teacutter, a nurse supervisor at the Boone County Health Department, said the main vaccines adults need are a tetanus booster every 10 years and an annual flu shot. Additional vaccine requirements depend on a variety of healthcare factors.
After KRCG 13 aired a story on Monday examining religious exemptions to state vaccination requirements, a viewer asked what sort of risks and requirements adults face, particularly if they have already been vaccinated. Teacutter said most vaccines are very effective and require no boosters in adulthood. For example, she said the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine is nearly 100 percent effective and provides lifetime immunity even if you are exposed to one of those diseases as an adult.
Teacutter said some adults have special vaccine requirements. She said live vaccines are not recommended for pregnant women. If a pregnant woman has not been vaccinated against rubella, doctors will wait until after the baby is born, at which point they will vaccinate the mother before she leaves the hospital. On the other hand, Teacutter said women in their third trimester of pregnancy should get the tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough), or Tdap, vaccine. She said the antibodies the mother develops will be transferred through the placenta to the fetus, so the baby will have some protection until the first DTap shot two months after birth. Teacutter said women should receive a Tdap shot for each pregnancy.
Some medical conditions require additional vaccinations. Teacutter said those without a spleen should receive meningococcal vaccines. If you are undergoing chemotherapy or bone marrow transplants, she said you might need to redo some long-ago vaccinations.
If you are not sure of your immunization history, Teacutter said to check with your doctor. If you can't locate your medical records, she said check with your parents, the high school you went to or your local health department. She said the health departments can access the state immunization registry. If you can't find your records anywhere and you need a vaccine, she said it's fine to get re-vaccinated.
Teacutter said if your primary-care physician doesn't provide immunizations, your health department will. People with limited incomes can receive vaccines through a state-funded program.