If you’re getting your annual influenza vaccination, congratulations: It’s the smart thing to do. You’re much less likely to get the flu – and to be among the 20,000 people hospitalized for it each year. But while you’re getting the flu shot, should you think about getting any other vaccines too?
The answer may very well be yes. The flu shot can protect you against influenza and its complications, but there are other viruses out there that can still cause you trouble.
This is especially true if you’re recovering from a severe illness, have a chronic condition, or are over 50 years old. If any of these apply to you, you’re at increased risk of severe complications if you get viral pneumonia, and you may benefit from being vaccinated against the various strains of the pneumococcus virus. Ask your health care professional about available pneumococcal vaccines such as Pneumovax ® 23 or Prevnar®.
Another virus that can cause you trouble is one you may have thought you left behind in childhood. The varicella-zoster virus, which causes chickenpox, can come back to haunt you later in life as shingles, a painful blistering condition. If you’re over 50, especially if you have lately had any other health problems, you’re at higher risk for shingles and it’s a good idea to ask your health care professional about the shingles vaccine Zostavax®.
Are you worried that too many vaccines at the same time will overburden your immune system? You needn’t be. It’s normal for people to receive multiple vaccines at the same time. The immune challenge from the inactivated viruses in a vaccine is just a drop in the bucket compared to the huge number of viruses and bacteria you’re exposed to every day. It’s worth it to keep your system as well prepared as possible.