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Re-vaccinations can be life-saver

Updated: August 8, 2012 11:59AM

Q. I’ve been hearing about re-vaccinations. Is it necessary to have them now that I am middle-aged?

A. More than 40,000 adults a year die from diseases they could avoid with a simple shot.

Here’s the rundown on the vaccines you might need:

† Flu injection, annually; regular shot for anyone 6 months and older; high dose for 65+; and intradermal for those 18 to 64; a nasal spray live vaccine is for healthy people ages 2 to 49 (and not pregnant).

† Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis — called Tdap — in lieu of a simple Td booster; once, with a Td every 10 years; for everyone 19 to 65. Older than 65? Tdap or Td — it depends if you are in contact with an infant or not.

† Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine is for everyone 19+, if you haven’t had the disease.

† HPV (human papilloma virus) protection for women 19-26; for men 19-21 (through 26, if doctor recommends).

† Zoster (shingles) shot for everyone 50+; maybe revaccination after 10 years.

† Measles, mumps, rubella; once for everyone 19 to 55, if you haven’t had the disease(s).

† Pneumococcal (pneumonia); there’s now a vaccine approved for everyone 50 and older; revaccination every 10 years.

† Meningococcal (meningitis) vaccine, as well as one for hepatitis A and B, if a doctor thinks it’s necessary.

Q. I’m scheduled for an MRI before I have knee-replacement surgery. How does it work, and do I have to get into one of those tubes?

A. MRIs take pictures of the unseen and make them visible by taking advantage of the fact that we are mostly made up of water. Using a powerful magnetic field, the machine polarizes the protons in hydrogen molecules so they stand up and point in one direction — then sit back down. Imagine “the wave” rippling through the stadium seats at a baseball game. That’s what happens to H2 molecules when an MRI is turned on.

And the incessant noise that can be so bothersome to someone inside the tube? That ping signals another dose of energy, starting another “wave” all over again. As the machine pings away, radio waves organize the ups and downs, and they’re assembled into a picture of your insides!

The standard machine is a metal tube that you slowly slide into; you have to stay very still while the image is formed. For many people, this can be disconcerting, so some opt for a sedative, anti-anxiety drug or even stress-reducing aromatherapy beforehand; we find breathing exercises and meditation to be extremely calming.

There is also an Open Bore MRI; this model has a foot of space above your face, and sometimes you can have your head outside the tube. So talk to your doc about what provides the best image for your pre-surgery consult and what you can handle.

King Features Syndicate

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