Workplaces can pose all kinds of hazards, especially to those individuals who work in environments where exposure to various diseases is heightened. Healthcare, farming, oil drilling and food handling jobs are just some of the professions and industries in which additional health risks exist that typically do not affect the average person. As a result, it is extremely important that workers in these fields be vaccinated against a variety of diseases.
Below are five vaccines that are most needed by the individuals in these higher risk jobs to help ensure protection against what could otherwise be deadly infections.
Hepatitis A and B
While these two viruses have slightly different vectors, vaccination is equally important for both of them. Both Hepatitis A and B infections can develop into a serious illness, usually affecting the liver. Healthcare workers and other employees that may come in contact with human fluids are especially susceptible to these forms of hepatitis. Most younger adults will have received the Hepatitis A and B vaccines as a part of their childhood immunization schedule. However, the Hepatitis A vaccine was only introduced in 1995, so workers over the age of 20, in particular, should be sure they are up to date on this immunization.
The MMR vaccine protects against three highly contagious diseases: measles, mumps and rubella (German Measles). These diseases spread from person to person through the air and have a near 90% infection rate among an unvaccinated population. Many individuals, especially those born after 1959, have already received this vaccine, but boosters are sometimes needed. If you do not remember receiving the vaccine, or if it has been multiple decades since you received it, consider getting a Titer Test to determine if you still have immunity.
Like the MMR vaccine, the TDaP vaccine protects against multiple diseases, in this case tetanus (lockjaw), diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). Without discounting the importance of vaccination against diphtheria and pertussis (it is especially important given the recent outbreaks of whooping cough in some parts of the United States), vaccination against tetanus is crucial for many workers. This disease which is transmitted through cuts, scratches or other external wounds, and it can cause painful muscle tightening and stiffness, usually over the entire body. Tetanus kills about 1 in 5 people that it infects. A booster is generally suggested every 10 years to ensure immunity and is very important for those doing manual labor and construction work.
Spread person to person, this disease is potentially deadly and highly dangerous when contracted. Less than 1000 cases are diagnosed in the United States each year, but approximately 10% are fatal. The meningitis vaccine is generally suggested for those that fall into standard at risk categories (the very young, seniors, immunocompromised, etc.) but is highly suggested for those living in crowded housing as well as those exposed to cigarette smoke on a regular basis. Unlike many other infections, you can get meningitis more than once, and boosters are required at specific intervals (the exact amount of time depends on the vaccine you chose to receive).
For more information on work-related vaccines and workplace health, see Passport Health’s Employer portal.
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