A good kind of prick


Childhood vaccines are important in protecting children from serious disease and possibly death. As adults, it is vital to keep up with a recommended set of vaccines.

"Vaccines are important because they prevent disease," said Fred Kam, director of the AU Medical Clinic. "The ones most people get are ones that you don't see much, like measles, mumps, polio and chicken pox."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some vaccines are needed only once when entering adulthood, while others should be administered every year.

Amy Donaldson, associate clinical professor, said the flu vaccine should be received yearly to be effective because flu strands change every year.

As a young adult, the flu vaccine isn't the only important vaccine.

Kam said college students should be given the hepatitis A and B; meningococcal; and tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap) vaccines.

Spread through blood, semen and other fluids, hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease. The vaccine is administered in three doses.

Hepatitis A, like hepatitis B, is also a liver disease, but it is passed by infected stool.

Although the hepatitis A vaccine is recommended before one reaches adulthood, Kam said most children and teenagers do not visit the doctor unless they are sick, so they may not have received it.

The meningococcal vaccine protects against meningitis, a disease caused by the inflammation of the protective membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.

It is recommended by the CDC for people living in dormitories and should be administered in one or more doses throughout one's life.

"Meningococcal is important because of close contact with others," Donaldson said.

The Tdap vaccine protects against tetanus, or lockjaw, a disease causing painful tightening of the muscles; diphtheria, which creates a thick covering in the back of the throat; and pertussis, or whooping cough, a respiratory illness that causes extreme coughing.

Kam said he strongly recommends adults receive the Tdap vaccinte.

"In the past, there was a period of 10 years when we weren't giving out the pertussis part of the Tdap," Kam said. "Now we are trying to catch up."

Kam said the pertussis part was left out because there was a problem with it for a small period of time.

The Tdap vaccine is required once as an adult, and followed with just tetanus, diphtheria or Td every 10 years.

Other vaccines are recommended for sexually active adults, such as the human papillomavirus or HPV vaccine.

The hepatitis A and B, meningococcal, Tdap and flu vaccines can be found at the AU Medical Clinic and at most doctors' offices.

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