Do You Need To Top Up Your Jabs?
The MMR Jab
What is it? This is the measles mumps and rubella vaccine. It’s a combined vaccine that protects against these three separate illnesses with one injection, given in two doses. These are all highly infectious conditions that can have serious complications, including meningitis and deafness.
Who needs it? This vaccine is important for pregnant women, people who are planning to travel, those who may be exposed to infections (for example, the current surge in measles), and vulnerable patients, like healthcare workers.
When do you have it? Irrespective of disease, you are not immune to these three infections, so you would normally be given the MMR vaccine as part of their routine vaccination schedule around their first birthday and then a second injection around the age of four.
Will I need it as an adult? You would only have this as an adult if you’ve never had it before, or if you didn’t complete the course of two injections as a child. It’s important to note that anyone born between 1980 and 1990 may have been given a mumps vaccine, while anyone born between 1970 and 1979 may only have been inoculated against measles, and not mumps and rubella. It’s important to check.
The Pneumonia Jab
What is it? The pneumococcal vaccine – also known as the pneumonia vaccine – protects against serious and potentially fatal pneumococcal infections. These are caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae and can lead to pneumonia, septicemia (a kind of blood poisoning) and meningitis. At their worst, they can cause permanent brain damage, or even kill.
Who needs it? Anyone whose job puts them at risk. An example of this is welders – breathing in metal fumes at work increases their risk of suffering from pneumonia. Plus, adults with serious heart or kidney conditions.
When do you have it? Babies receive 3 doses of pneumococcal vaccine at eight weeks, 16 weeks and one year.
Will I need it as an adult? It’s likely. All adults over the age of 65 will need a single pneumococcal vaccination. Plus, anyone between the ages of two to 64 with a health condition that increases the risk of pneumonia, such as diabetes, liver disease or lung disease. The vaccine will be a one-off for adults and will protect against 23 strains of pneumococcal bacteria.
The HPV Jab
What is it? The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine protects against cervical cancer in girls and women, which is the most common form of cancer in women under the age of 35. It also helps protect women against genital warts and rarer HPV-related cancers, such as anal cancer, genital cancers and cancers of the head and neck. The latest form of the vaccination protects against nine strains of HPV, which includes cancer-causing strains and strains which cause genital warts.
Who needs it? This one is mostly just for women. In the UK, girls are given the HPV vaccine for free on the NHS from the age of 12 up to their 25th birthday.
Will I need it as an adult? This programme only started in 2008, meaning there are a lot of adults who are not immune. Ideally, it’s best to vaccinate against HPV before you become sexually active – as the virus is sexually transmitted. In adults who haven’t been vaccinated, it’s still possible to do so, even if they’re now sexually active. In these cases, the woman will have to receive three doses of the vaccine to have protection. Both women and men who have not been vaccinated can elect to have the vaccine as adults, but it might not necessarily be eligible on the NHS. For more information on who might need the jab, check here.
The Flu Jab
What is it? The flu vaccination is available on the NHS to help protect adults and children at risk of flu and its complications.
Who needs it? Flu is obviously unpleasant for everyone, but if you are otherwise healthy it’ll usually clear up on its own within a week. But the symptoms can be more severe in certain people, such as anyone over the age of 65, pregnant women, and children and adults with an underlying health condition or weakened immune systems.
Will I need it as an adult? All adults over the age of 65 should have this vaccine, as should those under 65 who have any of the above issues. As soon as the seasonal injection becomes available, at-risk groups should have it – the earlier the better, and it needs updating annually. Adults working in areas where the risk of flu is high, such as large offices, hospitals or schools, or those who are prone to flu, should consider it. This season, there were two different vaccines: one for those between 18-65 and another for the over-65s.The different vaccine for the over-65s has been shown to be more effective in defending against flu in this age group.
What is it? Depending where you’re travelling, various vaccinations will be required. Vaccinations are available to protect you against infections such as yellow fever, typhoid and hepatitis A.
Who needs it? The only compulsory vaccine is Yellow Fever – you must show proof of this inoculation if it is a requirement to enter the country, and you won’t get in without it if it’s compulsory. Outside of this, all other vaccines are voluntary, but advised. You may be more at risk of some diseases, for example, if you’re travelling in rural areas, backpacking, staying in hostels or camping, on a long trip rather than a package holiday, or if you have a pre-existing health problem.
When do I need it? If possible, you need to see the GP or a private travel clinic at least eight weeks before you’re due to travel, as some vaccines need to be given well in advance to allow your body to develop immunity. Travel Health Pro will help you find out which vaccinations are necessary or recommended for the area you’re travelling to.
You can find out more about the jabs you need and how to get them here.
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