Just because we are grown-ups doesn't mean our days of immunization shots are over. Getting vaccines for contagious diseases not only protects you from serious illnesses, but it safeguards your family as well. (Find an updated schedule for children's vaccines here.)
In fact, if there is a simple New Year’s resolution for your health that you can keep, it's getting vaccinated for the diseases below. It doesn’t require a lot of time or constant commitment, it’s very effective and, in most cases, it can last a lifetime. What to get? We’ve taken the most recent immunization recommendations from the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination (PFV) and the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases and listed down the ones recommended for all Filipino adults, women planning to get pregnant and pregnant women. (Some on the list are recommended for the elderly or particular professions like vet.)
Make sure to read the whole guidelines (found here) as it includes precautions and contradictions for every vaccine below. Talk to your doctor before getting these immunization shots:
1. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) According to Dr. Cecilia Ladines-Llave, gynecologic oncologist at the Philippine General Hospital and chair of Asian Gynecology and Oncology Group, the human papilloma virus has more than 100 types, some of which can develop into cancer. A completed series of the HPV vaccine does not only protect against HPV-related cancer for life, such as cervical cancer, but from genital warts as well. Read more about the HPV vaccine here.
Recommended for: females between 9 and 55 years old and men between 10 to 26 years old who have not been previously vaccinated during childhood or have not completed the dose series Number of shots: typically 3 doses for adults
2. Tetanus, Diptheria Acellular Pertussis (Tt, Td, Tdap) This three-in-one shot is recommended for all adults and prescribed for pregnant and postpartum women (it's given during the latter part of pregnancy). These immunizations do not only protect the mother but guards the developing fetus as well from these three potentially serious diseases. Getting this shot while pregnant, for example, can protect a newborn against whooping cough in the first few months of life. Recommended for: all adults particularly pregnant women and persons 60 years old and above Number of shots: 3 doses
3. Influenza With symptoms similar to the cold, the flu is a respiratory disease that can infect the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness that can lead to serious problems and complications. Worse, it’s also highly contagious so those living in the same household and can easily be passed to another family member. Those at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications include the elderly, pregnant women, young children and those with chronic medical conditions. Certain studies have shown that women who receive the shot during pregnancy pass on the flu immunity to their newborns for the first few months.
Recommended for: all adults, particularly pregnant women and the elderly
4. Hepatitis A Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection. It’s transmitted through eating food or water contaminated by the Hepatitis A virus or via the fecal-oral route (a contaminated object is put into another person’s mouth). Serious and life-threatening complications of hepatitis A include acute liver failure.
Recommended for: any individual seeking protection from the hepatitis A virus
Number of shots: 2 doses
5. Hepatitis B There’s a reason newborns are immediately given the hepatitis B vaccine after birth. Hepatitis B is a serious disease that “can cause lifelong infection, cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure, and death,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S. It’s transmitted through contact with the blood of an infected person or having intercourse with an infected person. An infected pregnant mother can also pass it on to her newborn. Read more about the hepatitis B vaccine here.
Recommended for: all adults, particularly those who have not been previously vaccinated during childhood and sexually active individuals
Number of shots: 3 doses
6. Varicella Varicella vaccination is for preventing chickenpox, a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). Chickenpox causes an itchy, blister-like rash, tiredness and fever. It spreads through droplets in the air that come from an infected person’s saliva, sneeze, cough or fluid in the blisters of the skin. Getting vaccinated protects you and also the people around you. Moreover, contracting chickenpox while pregnant can lead to serious complications for both mother and unborn child, according to Mayo Clinic. But it is important to note that you cannot take the vaccine when you are pregnant. Women of child-bearing age and those planning to get pregnant need to be given the vaccine before trying to conceive.
Recommended for: all adults, particularly non-pregnant women of child-bearing age especially if you have never had the chicken pox before or have never been received this shot before.
Number of shots: 2 doses
7. Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) Measles, mumps and rubella are all infectious diseases. Measles, in particular, used to be very common with some dying of the disease until a vaccine was developed. The three-in-one shot is recommended for everyone, young and old, especially for child-bearing women or those planning to get pregnant. Measles and mumps can cause serious complications to the mother and unborn child. Rubella is a mild disease but increases the chances of miscarriage when infected during the first trimester of pregnancy.
Recommended for: all adults, particularly non-pregnant women of child-bearing age and those who have not been previously vaccinated during childhood (if you can't remember whether you had these shots as a child, then you are advised to get the MMR vaccine).
Number of shots: 2 doses
Shown above, the CDC also has similar guidelines for adult immunization but it does have differences from the Philippine guidelines. Vaccines for hepatitis A and B, for example, are recommended not for all but those with risk factors. See the full CDC recommendations here.
Sources: PFV, information about the diseases listed above from the CDC index, Mayo Clinic