Immunizations Important for Middle-Age Women

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • I remember as a child that my mom would always make sure that I visited the doctor to get my shots. In my 20s and 30s, I didn’t get sick so I didn’t see the doctor that regularly. But as I’ve gotten into middle age, I’ve been making fairly regular appointments for a check-up. During one of those, I learned that middle-age women do need recommended immunizations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


    So I’m taking a liberty here by not addressing a purely menopause topic, but instead addressing the shots that are recommended to help middle-age women stay healthy as we age. Here goes:

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    • Influenza (Flu Shot) – You need to get this particular vaccination annually throughout your life. According to the CDC, influenza is highly contagious and infects the nose, throat and lungs. This disease spreads through droplets when a person who is infected coughs and sneezes.  Symptoms include a sudden high fever, chills, dry cough, headache, runny nose, sore throat, muscle and joint pain, and extreme fatigue that can last several weeks. This particular disease can be mild or severe and can lead to hospitalization and death.
    • Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis – You need to receive a Td booster to protect against these diseases every 10 years throughout your life. Diphtheria is a contagious bacterial disease that attacks the respiratory system. It can be passed through direct contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze. Symptoms include weakness, sore throat, low-grade fever and swollen neck glands. The disease also can lead to swelling of the heart muscle and potentially heart failure. Severe cases can lead to coma, paralysis and death. Tetanus is caused by bacteria in the soil that enters the body through a wound. If infected, a person can suffer serious and painful spasms as well as stiffness in the body’s muscles. Tetanus can cause the jaw to lock, thus making it difficult for a person to open the mouth, swallow or breathe. Complete recovery can take several months. Furthermore, 30 percent of people who get this infection die. Pertussis also is spread through respiratory droplets from the sneeze or cough of someone who is infected. The symptoms often are similar to the common cold during the initial part of the disease. However, 1-2 weeks later, the person may suffer spells of violent coughing and choking, which makes it difficult to breathe, drink or eat. The cough can last for weeks.
    • Measles, mumps and rubella  -- You need 1-2 doses before the age of 55 and then another 1-2 doses after the age of 55, depending on your health, job or lifestyle.
    • Pneumococcal (pneumonia) – You need 1-2 doses before the age of 65 and then another dose when you reach 65. This disease attacks the lungs and can also lead to ear infections, sinus infections, meningitis, bacteremia and sepsis. This disease is spread through coughing or sneezing.
    • Meningococcal – You need one or more doses during your lifetime. This disease is caused by bacteria and can lead to bacterial meningitis. This disease can spread through nose and throat droplets that are distributed through coughing, sneezing or kissing. Symptoms are nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, confusion and sleepiness. This disease also can cause blood infection. About 10 percent of people who get this disease di from it. Survivors may lose their arms or legs, become deaf, have issues with the nervous system, become developmentally disabled or suffer seizures or strokes.
    • Hepatitis A – You need 2 doses during your lifetime. This disease is an infection in the liver that is spread primarily from person to person. The CDC reports that this virus is taken in by mouth from contact with objects, food or drinks that have been contaminated by the feces of an infected person. Symptoms include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark urine and jaundice. People who have this disease may have no symptoms, may have a mild illness that lasts for a couple of weeks, or may have a severe case that requires hospitalization. Approximately 100 people in the United States die annually from hepatitis A.
    • Hepatitis B – You need three doses during your lifetime. This disease is an infection of the liver and spreads through the exchange of blood or other body fluids. Hepatitis B causes flu-like symptoms such as loss of appetite, nausea, rashes, joint pain, vomiting and jaundice. The infection remains in the liver of some people for the remainder of their lives and may cause severe liver diseases such as cancer.
    • Varicella (Chickenpox) – You need two doses of this vaccination during your lifetime. This disease is very contagious and can be spread from a cough, sneeze or the blisters on the skin. Typical symptoms include an itchy rash with blisters, tiredness, headache and fever. Severe cases of chickenpox can lead to severe skin infections, pneumonia, swelling of the brain or death.
    • Zoster (Shingles) – You need one dose when you reach the age of 60. Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you have the chickenpox, the virus stays in the body in an inactive state until it reactivates years later, causing shingles. About 33 percent of people in the United States will develop shingles; of these, half of the cases will be people who are 60 years of age and older.


    Talk to your doctor about getting these shots so you can avoid these diseases. And realize that there’s one that you no longer need – the CDC doesn’t recommend that you have the HPV vaccine after the age of 27.


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    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (nd). Recommended immunizations for adults.

Published On: October 30, 2012