WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — With many employers requiring proof of flu vaccination this year, a Purdue University nursing expert is encouraging people to use this opportunity to review the status of other key vaccinations that might need updated.

Libby Richards, an associate professor of nursing who specializes in public health at Purdue’s School of Nursing in the College of Health and Human Sciences, says it’s important to keep vaccinations up-to-date because immunity can decrease as people age.

“Getting a flu vaccine isn’t just about individual health, it’s about family and community health,” Richards says. “High rates of flu vaccination reduce the chance the virus can spread and protects those who are unable to be vaccinated, such as babies less than 6 months old. Getting the flu shot is the best prevention strategy because we can’t predict how people will react if they get sick.”

The flu vaccine is just one of many vaccines that help fight off infections and viruses in not just you, but others.

“Vaccinations aren’t just for kids – adults need them, too,” Richards says. “They are one of the most important tools we have in public health, and keeping vaccines up-to-date is vital for personal and community protection. Many people have let annual wellness visits lapse during the COVID-19 pandemic, which places us at risk for more disease outbreaks that would normally be under control due to proper vaccination.”

Recommended vaccinations depend on one’s age and past medical history. Adults 65 and older should get one dose of the Pneumoccoal vaccine (pneumonia). Adults 50 and older should get two doses of the shingles vaccine. Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) and Hepatitis B vaccines are also encouraged, Richards says. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a vaccine self-assessment tool to help people figure out the correct vaccination and timing.

Richards says if you are uncertain of visiting a health care provider for wellness visits and vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic, call ahead and learn about the providers’ safety requirements, such as masking, hand sanitizing or new check-in procedures.

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