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Immunizations: A Checklist for You and Your Family

Some adults incorrectly assume that the vaccines they received as children will protect them for the rest of their lives. Sometimes this is true, however:

  • Some adults were never vaccinated as children.
  • Newer vaccines were not available when some adults were children.
  • Immunity can begin to fade over time.
  • Increasing age creates susceptibility and exposure to different diseases.

As we age, we become more susceptible to serious diseases caused by common infections (e.g., flu and pneumococcus). In addition, some other vaccine-preventable diseases still occur. Cases of measles diagnosed in the U.S. in 2011 are twice the number seen in a typical year, the biggest outbreak in 15 years, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Measles can be like a canary in a coal mine,” says the CDC's Gregory Wallace. “If there are any issues with vaccine coverage, it can first be apparent with measles.” In the past three years, doctors also have seen outbreaks of other vaccine-preventable diseases, such as mumps and whooping cough.

The information that follows was compiled from the U.S. Advisory Commission on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), the CDC, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and the Immunization Action Coalition, and reviewed by PennCME/BestPractice faculty

Start with the quiz below. Print it out, fill it out, and discuss the answers with your doctor. You will also find other quizzes and polls to test your knowledge and your decisions to act. We hope you find this activity both interesting and useful.


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