MUSKOKA, ON – While the majority of adults believe they have a responsibility to stay healthy for their families, their own vaccinations aren’t a priority.
A recent study was conducted from Ipsos Vaccinate for Life, commissioned by pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). It found that over 50 per cent of adults don’t think keeping up to date on their own immunizations is as important as making sure their children are.
Michael Wortzman is the medical affairs manager and scientific advisor for GSK. He says while it is important for children to be vaccinated, adults needs to keep up-to-date as well to ensure herd immunity.
“I actually just went through this as I have a new nephew and my sister reminded all of us to make sure we got our flu vaccines,” Wortzman said. “It is a big one because the flu affects kids very significantly with their undeveloped immune system.”
Wortzman added the flu shot is one in particular that adults should get every year. He said while the flu may not be a big deal for healthy adults, it can be fatal for toddlers or the elderly.
The study also found that over one- fourth of people surveyed thought keeping up with all vaccines is important, but more than a quarter say it isn’t a priority.
In addition to the flu vaccine, there are other immunizations adults need as they age, regardless of their parental status.
“Every Canadian should be having a conversation with their doctor and asking what is right for them,” Wortzman said. “Shingles vaccine is a big one for adults 50 or older, pneumococcal is another and tetanus should be done every 10 years.”
The advisor added shingles is the chickenpox virus, which that lays dormant in everyone who had the disease when younger. Wortzman said once adults get older and their immune system gets weaker, the virus will reappear as shingles, which can be a very bad experience.
“It is actually neuropathic pain, which is different than normal pain and is really hard to treat,” Wortzman. “It is a good example of getting vaccinated against something well in advance. Try to get ahead of the curve before you’re at greatest risk.”
The advisor understood that most adults won’t book a doctor’s appointment just to talk about vaccinations. He urged people to keep it in their mind the next time they see their family physician and try to squeeze the conversation into their next visit.