The basics for good health
Preventive care services are foundational to good health. Once you've found a primary care provider (PCP) that you feel comfortable with, you should start receiving a few basic preventive care services. Vaccinations for certain communicable diseases are an important step in preventing disease and maintaining good health.
According to the American College of Preventive Medicine, the following vaccinations are recommended for all adults: Tetanus should be given every 10 years. If you aren't sure when your last tetanus shot was, then it is fine to go ahead and get another one. If you are ever cut or have a puncture wound and go to the ER, chances are you will receive another tetanus shot.
Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) is typically given to children and adolescents. If you have lost your shot records or are unsure if you have received this vaccination, then your PCP may want to give you this vaccination. Again it is okay to have this vaccination even if you have had it in the past.
It is also recommended that all adults be immunized for Hepatitis B. This is a series of three shots given over a six-month period and provides lifelong protection from Hepatitis B. The influenza vaccination is recommended yearly for all individuals over the age of 65 or those with a chronic disease such as diabetes or HIV. The flu vaccine is also recommended for pregnant women and healthcare workers. The pneumococcal vaccine or "pneumonia shot" is recommended for those over 65 or those suffering from chronic illnesses. This is generally given every 10 years and helps prevent some types of pneumonia infections.
For GLBT individuals (especially those who engage in oral to anal sex or "rimming"), it is recommended to also have a Hepatitis A vaccination, which is given in two doses. Another vaccine that has been suggested for GLBT individuals is the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine Gardisil. This vaccine helps prevent certain types of HPV infection which have been linked to cervical cancer. This vaccine is widely recommend for young women, but research suggests that vaccinations in young men may help prevent anal cancer which in gay men who engage in anal sex correlates strongly with cervical cancer rates in women. Do not expect your insurance company to pay for this vaccination though as it has not been approved for use in men, and it can cost as much as $300 for the vaccine.
Next month I will discuss some routine examinations and diagnostic procedures that are recommended for adults and some special recommendations for GLBT individuals.