Why adults should prioritize vaccines this winter

(BPT) - With COVID-19 cases on the rise and flu season underway, it is more important than ever to prioritize your health.

Social distancing will become more difficult in the winter months. With everyone spending more time indoors, it’s essential to take every precaution to help keep yourself and your loved ones safe. One important first step is talking with your doctor or pharmacist to ensure you’re up to date with your vaccines.

Now, more than ever, it is important for people to be fully up to date on the vaccines we do have to help prevent disease. Primary care physicians and pharmacies have created safe places and protocols for adults to get vaccines during the pandemic crisis and it’s important to continue with routine healthcare.

A couple of years ago, father, business owner and Rhode Island native Steve B. was forced to spend the holidays sidelined with shingles at the age of 51.

As Steve remembers it, “I look forward to the holidays every year. In addition to the fun and festivities of the season, I get a little downtime to enjoy my favorite things: spending time with my family, working out and watching sports. But that holiday season, I felt an odd burning pain I’d never felt before.”

Steve and his wife were on their way to a New Year’s Eve party when he started to feel discomfort and pain in his back. Steve’s wife looked but didn’t see anything unusual. Steve expected the pain to subside on its own. However, the next morning, when he asked his wife to look at his back again, she was shocked to find a blistered rash. He knew he had to seek medical attention — fast. When Steve was finally able to see his doctor, he was immediately diagnosed with shingles — a vaccine-preventable disease that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) affects almost 1 out of 3 people in the U.S.

Most illnesses, hospitalizations, disability and deaths from vaccine-preventable illnesses occur among adults. An estimated average of 50,000 Americans die of vaccine-preventable diseases each year — with adults, and especially older adults, disproportionally impacted, according to CDC. Thousands more suffer serious health problems that could have been prevented with recommended immunizations.

According to a 2020 survey* conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of GSK, the vast majority of primary care physicians (95%) say staying up to date on their vaccines is one of the most important things older adults can do to stay healthy. Seventy-three percent of adults ages 50-59 believe it is absolutely essential, extremely important or very important for adults their age to get vaccinated, however, around one-third or more of adults in this age group have never heard of or are unfamiliar with many of the vaccines recommended for them.

Shingles is one of more than 20 diseases that can now be prevented by vaccination. Adults ages 50 and older may need a number of vaccines, based on their age, underlying medical conditions, lifestyle, prior vaccinations and other considerations. Recommended adult vaccines protect against diseases like influenza, pneumococcal disease, shingles, hepatitis, pertussis and tetanus.

Although vaccines have significantly reduced or eliminated many infectious diseases that once regularly killed or harmed people, the viruses and bacteria that cause these diseases still exist. By getting vaccinated, people can help protect themselves from much of this unnecessary suffering.

If you’re 50 or older, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the recommended vaccines you may need and can safely receive now. To learn more about adult vaccinations, visit broughtbyvaccines.com.

Content sponsored by GSK.

*This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of GSK. The Consumer survey was conducted from July 14 – August 4, 2020 among 3,007 U.S. adults ages 50 to 79 (i.e., older adults), including 1,003 U.S. adults ages 50 to 59. The Physician survey was conducted from July 14 – August 4, 2020 among 301 U.S. physicians ages 18 and older who specialize in family practice/general practice/internal medicine and are duly licensed in the state where they practice (i.e., PCPs). This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.