Not just for kids!



As August begins, “back to school” fever is everywhere! As parents double check those immunization records, it is a good thing for all adults to review their immunization status to determine if updates are needed.


 Really! Immunizations are not just for infants and children.  Despite the recent unsubstantiated claims of the dangers of immunizations, the availability of these products in our country leads to decreased illness and morbidity. If everyone in the community is immunized, the result is a decrease in epidemics which in turn protects those that are unable to be vaccinated as well as those in whom the vaccine was not effective. In other words, they promote your health! Get your shots to stay well!


There are several (some relatively new) vaccine immunizations available for adults to promote wellness against certain diseases. Although no vaccine is 100% guaranteed it will often lessen the severity of the disease if it occurs. Please contact your health provider for specific recommendations but overall, consider the following frequent illnesses and the vaccines recommended for adults.


Tetanus/ Diphtheria /Pertussis 

A combination vaccine is now available to update Tetanus status while also providing coverage for Diphtheria and Whooping cough (Pertussis), which has reared its ugly self across the USA recently, spreading like wildfire in schools and communities. Pertussis causes such a severe cough that it is difficult to talk, eat or swallow often causing pneumonia, seizures, brain damage and even death. A tetanus bacterium typically enters the body through a wound while Diphtheria and Pertussis are spread person to person. You are likely most familiar with Tetanus and its associated “lock jaw “. Diphtheria causes a thick coating of the breathing passages resulting in breathing problems, heart failure and possibly death. This vaccine is typically a one dose immunization from age 10-64. Although you most likely received coverage for all these diseases with your primary immunization series as a child, consult your physician regarding a booster. The most common side effects are pain, redness and swelling at the injection site as well as body or muscle aches.


The Flu vaccine is the most widely known. Typically available in the fall of the year, it is recommended annually as soon as it is available, for all people 6 months of age and older. It is especially important to be vaccinated against the influenza virus if you or someone you live with or care for is at risk of complications from Influenza. Many times I have heard people make the statement, “I got the flu vaccine and then got the flu and was so sick!”  Because the vaccine is made from a killed or inactivated virus, there is no chance you will get the flu although it does take time for your body to develop fighting antibodies against the virus. You may however, experience muscle soreness, headache, fever and swelling at the injection site.  Trust me, talk to someone who had the influenza virus and you will realize the benefit even with the side effects! This immunization is contraindicated (not advised) if you are allergic to eggs, have a history of a severe reaction to a previous immunization or are ill with a fever at the time of the vaccine.  Typically covered by insurance, this vaccine rarely requires an order to obtain.


The vaccine associated with Shingles continues to be advertised on many sources. Approximately 30% of Americans will develop Shingles or Herpes Zoster and about half of the cases occur after age 60.  Shingles is a painful blistering red rash caused by reactivation of the latent varicella virus which caused you to have Chicken Pox as a child. This vaccine helps to prevent or reduce the severity of Shingles. This live virus vaccine is injected as a single immunization in the upper arm. Currently approved for ages greater than 50, the Centers for Disease Control recommends it for adults 60 years or above regardless of whether you have had Shingles or a documented case of the chicken pox. Those who have suffered through Shingles or the Post-herpetic neuralgia (PAIN) that often lingers after the disease will encourage you to become immunized. Although immunization is not a guarantee that you will not experience Shingles, it is known that the severity and duration will typically be less.  This vaccine is not recommended if you are immunocompromised from a disease state or treatment for a disease or if you are allergic to gelatin or neomycin. It is also not recommended for pregnant women.  As I see it, if I am 60 and pregnant, I have more issues to worry about than Shingles!

Streptococcus Pneumonia

This is a bacterium which causes frequent illness in adults and children. A Pneumonia vaccine is currently available in 2 different forms for adults and often both types are indicated. This immunization helps to prevent complications from the bacteria which can cause blood, brain and lung infections such as pneumonia, meningitis and septicemia.  Please consult your health care provider to see if either or both of these vaccines would be a good choice for you or if you need a booster. Children receive this as part of the suggested Immunization schedule and they are recommended for adults greater than 65. 

Currently, all of these vaccines are available locally. I spoke with Brad Narron, Registered Pharmacist at Galloway Sands Pharmacy in Southport who reported that the pharmacists on staff are immunizing daily. This year’s Influenza vaccine has not yet been released but will be available. Also, Mr. Narron and his staff are able to check your insurance immediately and validate your insurance coverage to determine your financial responsibility for copay and administration fee. Narron notes that typically some vaccines require Part D Medicare coverage to be paid, if Medicare is your insurance. It is important to note that a prescription from your health care provider is needed for all vaccines except the Influenza. No appointment is necessary and all injections are given by licensed pharmacist staff.  It is recommended that you wait approximately 15 minutes after your immunization to ensure there is no reaction.  Although rare, this is a safety measure well worth your time so plan accordingly. Also, many pharmacies offer car-side service for persons with impaired mobility. Be sure to call if this is something you require.

 So, when you start seeing those BACK TO SCHOOL commercials, let it be a reminder to check your immunization status to see if you are currently up to date.

Galloway Sands is located at 1513 N. Howe Street here in Southport. Please contact them at (910) 454-9090 for questions.

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