Interview By Joshua Lee
Getting vaccinated can be a major pain. Getting your shots is no fun at all and, as adults, we don’t even get a lollipop at the end. But Dr. Jaren Trost, MD, MBA, and primary care director at Optum, says keeping up-to-date with your vaccinations could save you from serious illness in the future.
The Paper.: Aren’t immunizations for kids? Why do adults need to get them?
Trost: Yes. Many children from newborn to four months old to a year old need their shots, and kids also need their shots for school. But adults of all ages really need to keep their vaccinations up-to-date, because immunity from childhood vaccines can wear off over time. I’m a rheumatologist. As we age, our immune systems tend to weaken, putting us at higher risk for certain diseases. That’s why the CDC recommends that older adults get five vaccines: The flu shot, the pneumonia vaccine, the shingles vaccine, the tetanus shot—we call it Tdap—and the COVID-19 vaccine.
When should adults be taking these vaccines?
The flu shot can be given anytime from six months to your elder years—really across the age spectrum. Pneumonia and shingles are given after age 50. And the Tdap vaccination is given every 10 years.
Now the COVID-19 vaccine—we recommend that and it’s suitable for all ages six months and older.
Are immunizations safe for everybody?
They are safe for everybody except for the people who’ve had a bad reaction to the vaccine. For example, flu shots. There are some people that may have had an anaphylactic—allergic—reaction to the flu vaccine. Everyone is able to get vaccinated except those who have a severe allergy.
How can a patient check their vaccination status if they aren’t sure about it?
Go talk to your primary care provider and ask about what vaccines you’ve have and haven’t had, and they will help guide you in the right direction and help you with an individualized treatment plan.
Can patients get all of their routine vaccines at one time?
Yes. It’s really important that they get the vaccines, and if they don’t have an allergy to them, they can get them all.
The danger of not getting vaccinated is not being protected against these diseases. Flu, COVID-19, pneumonia, shingles—all of these are very debilitating. The risk is that you could miss work because you’re sick, but these are all very preventable diseases. It’s really important that you get vaccinated because we don’t want you to get these diseases that are easily preventable.
If patients want more resources about adult vaccination, cdc.gov is a great website. They have different tabs for the different immunizations. If patients have more questions they can do that, or they can call Optum if they need a primary care provider. We’re willing to see you and answer all your questions about vaccines.