FRIDAY, Sept. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Public health experts often focus immunization awareness efforts toward protecting children, and with good reason: Facing a potentially bewildering schedule of vaccinations for their young ones, parents usually need all the help they can get.
But vaccinations aren't just kid stuff.
Medical science is creating an increasing number of immunizations targeted at adults, to help them avoid life-threatening diseases in middle-age and opportunistic infections when they're older.
"Immunization is a life-long issue that we need to pay a lot of attention to," said Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.
Some adult vaccinations are very well-known, like the annual shot that aims to prevent the spread of influenza.
"You need an influenza shot every year," Benjamin said. "Part of that is because the virus changes every year, sometimes a little and sometimes a lot."
The flu vaccine is the least challenging of adult vaccines to promote because just about everyone can and should get one, with very few exceptions, said Dr. Carolyn B. Bridges, associate director for adult immunizations at the Immunization Services Division of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"People don't have to go through a process to figure out if they are indicated or not for the vaccine," said Bridges, noting that, as of last year, everyone 6 years and older is recommended to receive an annual flu shot.
Newer vaccines, however, are targeted toward specific age groups, which can make it more difficult to figure out which shots are needed.
For example, the relatively new human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine prevents infection by a sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer in women.
"The vaccine is recommended for younger girls, but young adults who didn't receive it as
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