Deborah Fellinger
Health & Wellness

Everyone needs immunizations. Yes, that means you.

For parents of school-aged children, you know your state requires certain immunizations to attend public school. (All 50 states and Washington, D.C. require Tdap, polio, and MMR vaccinations. Most states also require Hepatitis B and chickenpox vaccines.)

But adults, even those who are considered healthy, need vaccines. Think of getting vaccinated as armor: a protective layer against intruders. In this case, intruders are infection and disease.

Why get vaccinated
When you get vaccinated, you’re not only protecting yourself –– but others. “It’s a disservice not to get vaccinated,” says Zest nurse Ryan Tiltz. “Vaccines have brought seven major human diseases under some degree of control, even completely eradicating smallpox.” When a majority are immunized against contagious disease, there’s a smaller chance of disease outbreak. This concept of community immunity or herd immunity helps protect folks who aren’t able to get vaccinated, such as in the case of pregnancy or a weakened immune system.

Preventative care with vaccinations
Depending on your age, gender, and the state of your health (say, if you have certain medical conditions), you may need vaccinations against disease and infections like HPV, chickenpox and shingles, Hepatitis A and B, pneumonia, and meningitis. “Most preventative care vaccines are covered by insurance,” says Tiltz, and are available at your PCP’s office.

Get a flu shot every year
One preventive precaution to take is getting a yearly flu shot. “The flu virus is never the same from year to year,” Tiltz explains. “Essentially the flu virus mutates, so you should get vaccinated every year.” While a flu shot isn’t a guarantee you don’t catch the flu, it helps your body develop antibodies, which helps prevent against infection.

(And it’s a misconception the flu shot will make you ill. “It’s an inactive virus, so it won’t give you the flu,” Tiltz says. You may have a sore arm, but that’s it.)

Travel immunizations
For adults and children traveling abroad, check the CDC list of travel vaccinations by country. You’ll want to make sure you’re immunized, as some countries require immunization records to enter. Plus, standards for water treatment, cleanliness, and medical care vary from country to country, so you want to make sure you’re protected. You can get travel vaccinations from your PCP, but schedule ahead of time. (CDC recommends 4-6 weeks before your trip.) Your doctor’s office will need to order travel vaccines specially, and you want sufficient time to build up immunity.

For assistance finding in-network facilities or a PCP who can advise you on immunization, contact the Zest concierge at 866.333.4725. Haven't registered? Register to become a Zest member! Employers, request a demo to get Zest for your employees.

August is National Immunization Awareness month.

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Deborah Fellinger
Content strategist at Zest Health. Writes copy, drinks coffee. Author of this and other sentences.