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Vaccine-Preventable Adult Diseases

Vaccine-preventable diseases cause long-term illness, hospitalization, and even death.

Did You Know

Each year in the United States, 1 million people get shingles and some will have severe pain that can continue even long after their rash clears up (called post-herpetic neuralgia) or they may suffer from other painful complications that could persist for years.

In the United States:

  • Each year, an average of 226,000 people are hospitalized due to influenza and between 3,000 and 49,000 people die of influenza and its complications, the majority are among adults.
  • There were approximately 32,000 cases of invasive pneumococcal disease in 2012. Of those cases, there were about 3,300 deaths.
  • 800,000 to 1.4 million people suffer from chronic hepatitis B, with complications such as liver cancer.
  • In the U.S., HPV causes about 17,000 cancers in women, and about 9,000 cancers in men each year. About 4,000 women die each year from cervical cancer.

Learn About Serious Diseases that Can Be Prevented by Vaccines

Chicken Pox (Varicella)

What it is

Chickenpox is a disease caused by the varicella zoster virus.

How it can affect you

Chickenpox causes an itchy rash with blisters, tiredness, headache and fever. Chickenpox is usually mild, but it can lead to severe skin infections, pneumonia, encephalitis (brain swelling), or even death.

Vaccine for Protection

Varicella

See the Varicella (Chickenpox) Vaccination page for more information.

Diphtheria

What it is

Diphtheria is a very contagious bacterial disease that affects the respiratory system, including the lungs.

How it can affect you

Diphtheria produces a toxin (poison) in the body that can cause weakness, sore throat, low-grade fever, and swollen glands in the neck. Effects from this toxin can also lead to swelling of the heart muscle and, in some cases, heart failure. In severe cases, the illness can cause coma, paralysis, and even death.

Vaccine for Protection

Tdap, Td

See the Diphtheria Vaccination page for more information.

Flu (Influenza)

What it is

Influenza is a contagious viral infection of the nose, throat, and lungs. Older adults and those with certain health conditions are at high risk for serious complications.

How it can affect you

Influenza virus can cause a sudden high fever, chills, a dry cough, headache, runny nose, sore throat, and muscle and joint pain. Extreme fatigue can last from several days to weeks. Influenza may lead to hospitalization or even death.

Vaccine for Protection

Annual Flu

See the Seasonal Influenza (Flu) Vaccination page for more information.

Hepatitis A

What it is

Hepatitis A is an infection in the liver caused by hepatitis A virus. This disease is often spread through contaminated food.

How it can affect you

Hepatitis A can cause fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). An infected person may have no symptoms, may have mild illness for a week or two, or may have severe illness for several months that requires hospitalization.

Vaccine for Protection

HepatitisA

See the Hepatitis A Vaccination page for more information.

Hepatitis B

What it is

Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by hepatitis B virus. This is a blood-borne disease and can be very serious.

How it can affect you

Hepatitis B causes a flu-like illness with loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, rashes, joint pain, and jaundice. The virus stays in the liver of some people for the rest of their lives and can result in severe liver diseases, including fatal cancer.

Vaccine for Protection

Adults who are at risk for hepatitis B infection, SUCH AS HEALTHCARE WORKERS, and adults who have CERTAIN chronic health conditions like diabetes, renal disease, chronic liver disease, or HIV infection AND ADULTS WHO ARE AT RISK OF SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS, should get three doses of HepB vaccine.

See the Hepatitis B Vaccination page for more information.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

What it is

Human papillomavirus is a common virus, especially among people in their teens and early 20s. Many people don’t know they have this for years until cancer appears.

How it can affect you

HPV is the major cause of cervical cancer in women, as well as anal cancer and genital warts in both women and men. Some types of HPV can cause cancers of the penis, anus, or oropharynx (back of the throat, including base of the tongue and tonsils).

Vaccine for Protection

HPV

See the HPV Vaccination page for more information.

Measles

What it is

Measles is respiratory disease caused by a very contagious virus. More and more cases are coming into the US, usually from international travelers.

How it can affect you

Measles can cause persistent fever, rash lasting up to a week, and coughing that can last about 10 days. Measles can also cause pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, or death.

Vaccine for Protection

MMR

See the Measles Vaccination page for more information.

Meningococcal Disease

What it is

Meningococcal disease is caused by bacteria and is a leading cause of bacterial meningitis (infection around the brain and spinal cord).

How it can affect you

Meningococcal disease can cause nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, confusion and sleepiness. Meningococcal disease also causes blood infections. About one out of every ten people who get the disease dies from it. Survivors of meningococcal disease may lose their arms or legs, become deaf, have problems with their nervous systems, become developmentally disabled, or suffer seizures or strokes.

Vaccine for Protection

Meningococcal

See the Meningococcal Vaccination page for more information.

Mumps

What it is

Mumps is an infectious disease caused by the mumps virus.

How it can affect you

The mumps virus causes fever, headaches, painful swelling of the salivary glands under the jaw, fever, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite. Severe complications can include meningitis (infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord), encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), permanent hearing loss, or swelling of the testes, which can lead to sterility in men in rare cases.

Vaccine for Protection

MMR

See the Mumps Vaccination page for more information.

Pneumococcal Disease

What it is

Pneumococcal disease is an illness caused by bacteria.

How it can affect you

Pneumococcal diseases include pneumonia (infection in the lungs), ear infections, sinus infections, meningitis (infection of the covering around the brain and spinal cord), and sepsis. In some cases pneumococcal disease can be fatal or result in long-term problems, like brain damage, hearing loss, and limb loss.

Vaccine for Protection

Adults over 65 years old need one dose of pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine. Adults younger than 65 years who have certain chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, or who smoke should also get pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine. Adults with weakened immune system, HIV, or asplenia should get both types of pneumococcal vaccine. The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine plus the conjugate vaccine.

See the Pneumococcal Vaccination page for more information.

Rubella

What it is

Rubella is a viral disease that causes fever and rash.

How it can affect you

Rubella usually causes a mild illness with fever, swollen glands, and a rash that lasts about 3 days. In some cases, it can lead to encephalitis (brain infection) in adults. If a pregnant woman is infected with rubella, it can result in miscarriage or serious birth defects such as mental retardation, heart defects, and loss of hearing and eye sight.

Vaccine for Protection

MMR

See the Rubella (German Measles) Vaccination page for more information.

Shingles (Zoster)

What it is

Shingles is a painful skin rash that is caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox.

How it can affect you

Shingles causes a painful rash on one side of the face or body, which blisters and then typically scabs over in 7-10 days and clears up within 2-4 weeks. Other symptoms of shingles can include fever, headache, chills, and upset stomach. Shingles can affect the eye and cause loss of vision.

Vaccine for Protection

Zoster

See the Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Vaccination page for more information.

Tetanus

What it is

Tetanus is a serious bacterial disease that causes painful tightening of muscles. You can get this from a cut or wound, even a needle prick.

How it can affect you

The bacteria causing Tetanus produce a toxin (poison) in the body that causes serious, painful spasms and stiffness of all muscles in the body. This can lead to “locking” of the jaw so a person cannot open his or her mouth, swallow, or breathe. Three out of ten people who get tetanus die from the disease.

Vaccine for Protection

Tdap, Td

See the Tetanus (Lockjaw) Vaccination page for more information.

Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

What it is

Whooping coughis a highly contagious respiratory tract infection caused by bacteria. Since the 1980s, there has been an increase in the number of reported cases of pertussis in the United States. Babies too young to get vaccinated are most at risk of severe illness.

How it can affect you

Whooping cough can cause prolonged cold symptoms, leading to spells of violent coughing and choking, making it hard to breathe, drink, or eat. This cough can last for weeks. Whooping cough is most severe for babies, leading to hospitalization and sometimes death. Babies often get the disease from a parent, caregiver, or relative.

Vaccine for Protection

Tdap

See the Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Vaccination page for more information.

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