What types of vaccinations are there
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How long do vaccines last?

Much of the global health sector depends on vaccines to prevent various diseases. When people do not get sick, they do not suffer the symptoms of the illness. But it also does not place a burden on the healthcare system. This reduces cost, personnel hours, and any risk of complications.

As such, vaccines are essential for everyone around the world. Most often, children get regular vaccines. However, did you know that adults may also require vaccinations? Not all vaccines last you a lifetime. Most do not and need a booster.

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Also, travelers may need more special vaccines than others. Humanitarian aid workers may be at particular risk of exposure to diseases, due to the locations they travel to. If you are a humanitarian traveler, make sure that you ask your doctor about any vaccines you may need.

For now, here is a handy list of how long vaccines last. Remember that you should always consult with a healthcare professional before deciding on immunization.

Routine vaccinations

  • Diphtheria: most children get a regular diphtheria vaccine. They get a round of 3 booster doses, about four years apart. It provides immunity for nearly ten years. Adults should get boosters at 45 and 65.
  • Hepatitis B: the Hepatitis B vaccine lasts at least 20 years and may provide life-long protection.
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV): this is a relatively new vaccine, but studies show that protection is long-lasting. The HPV vaccine prevents various types of the virus, which could be cancer-causing. The leading target group for this vaccine is adolescent girls.
  • Influenza: the influenza vaccine or simply the flu, lasts about six months. That’s why you usually need to get an annual flu shot.
  • Meningococcal meningitis: babies and children need several doses of the vaccine for full immunity. Sometimes adults will require a booster, but this is rare.
  • MMR: the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine is a combination vaccine against three common diseases. It is a long-lasting vaccine that protects people for over 20 years. There is some evidence that protection is lower for mumps.
  • Tdap: another combination vaccine, Tdap protects against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (or pertussis). After ten years, people should receive a booster shot of Td (against tetanus and diphtheria only).
  • Tuberculosis (TB): the TB vaccine is common in areas where TB is prevalent. The US and many other developed nations do not administer routine TB vaccines. Since it’s a new vaccine, information on how long it lasts is limited. Studies show that the duration is about 15 years.
  • Pneumococcal (PCV): babies will receive the PCV vaccine. This will protect them for most of their life. Adults over 65 should get a booster for lifetime immunization.
  • Poliomyelitis: most babies receive a routine polio vaccine. Adults will only need a booster if traveling to areas where polio is common.
  • Rotavirus: only babies and children require the rotavirus vaccine.
  • Varicella: varicella or chickenpox vaccine is common for children under 13. It protects for 10 to 20 years. Adults who have never had chickenpox or didn’t get the vaccine should still get it after age 13.

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Travel vaccinations

  • Cholera: the vaccine may last between 6 months and three years. This depends on your age and the type of vaccine that you get. Children require booster shots more often. However, doctors will rarely recommend the cholera vaccine to travelers.
  • Dengue: Mexico registered the first dengue vaccine in 2015. As such, there is still limited information on how long it lasts. Besides, few travelers get the recommendation for a dengue vaccine at this stage.
  • Hepatitis A: so far, scientists know that Hepatitis A vaccination lasts for at least ten years. You will often receive a combination vaccine for Hepatitis A, and B called Twinrix.
  • Japanese Encephalitis: so far, scientists are not sure how long immunizations last. There are two primary doses of the Japanese Encephalitis vaccine. Adults may require a booster.
  • Rabies: few travelers need to take rabies vaccines. However, pre-departure vaccination is only the first step. If you do get bitten by a rabid animal, you will need booster shots after the pre-exposure shot. Alternatively, you can have a vaccine within 24 hours after exposure.
  • Tick-borne Encephalitis: the tick-borne encephalitis vaccine will protect you for about three years after three injections. Last-minute travelers can receive short-term protection with just two doses.
  • Typhoid: protection from typhoid fever declines over time. As such, if you continue facing the risk of typhoid during your travel, you should get booster shots every three years.
  • Yellow Fever: in the past, people received booster doses of yellow fever vaccine every ten years. Today, studies show that the vaccine provides lifetime protection.

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