When you were only months old, your mother took you for your first round of vaccinations. The traumatic jabs that elicited wails and hours of crankiness were followed only weeks later by another set, which led to another. Your childhood was filled with a continual stream of vaccinations. You needed them, you were told, to remain well and go to school, reasons you didn’t really think made up for the painful prick of the needle and the humiliation of yet another Barbie Band Aid. So when you reached adulthood, you took the only step you could think of: You completely forgot about vaccinations. And you weren’t alone.
A survey of 7,000 Americans found that most couldn’t name the available vaccinations let alone say they had gotten any. In fact, the vast majority knew about only one: the flu shot. They had no clue that you could be vaccinated against tetanus, whooping cough, shingles, STDs and more. So it’s really no surprise that less than 2 percent of adults had been vaccinated for shingles, only 10 percent of at-risk women had gotten even the first dose of the HPV vaccination, and a mere 2 percent received the Tdap, the three-in-one shot that protects against whooping cough, tetanus and diphtheria. But anticipated or not, they certainly aren’t good findings.
Vaccinations can protect you from developing painful conditions that will leave you miserable for days or even weeks. Shingles affects more than one million people every year, transforming their bodies into masses of itchy red welts. The flu kills 36,000 Americans annually, and whooping cough, with each bone-rattling hack, can snap bones, particularly in the already weak. Just because you aren’t a kid anymore doesn’t mean you don’t need your shots. It simply means that your mom won’t be holding your hand. Talk to your doctor about which vaccinations would be most beneficial for you, and help prevent preventable diseases.