POSTED: Monday, April 23, 2012 - 8:00am
UPDATED: Monday, April 23, 2012 - 8:02am
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — It's a common misperception that the shots you got as kid will provide immunity for a lifetime.
Government research shows more than 40,000 adults die each year from vaccine preventable illnesses, compared to 1,000 children.
A new survey by Walgreens finds nearly half of american adults are unaware of government-recommended vaccines for their age group.
"It really is an issue I would say of awareness and access to a healthcare professional who can help educate you," says Walgreens senior vice president of Health and Wellness Jeffrey Kang.
Most of us know about yearly flu shots, but experts say all adults over age 65 should get the pneumonia vaccine.
One shot should last the rest of your life.
The itchy chicken pox you had as a kid can rear their ugly little heads again now that you're an adult in the form of extremely painful shingles, but studies show a Zostavax booster shot can cut the chances of developing shingles by half, or at least reduce the severity of the disease.
"There are a million cases a year of shingles and its not just a rash, its a very painful rash that can be debilitating," notes Dr. Sharon Bergquist.
Doctors say the number one reason we're seeing an increase in Whooping Cough cases in children is because their parents haven't gotten their pertussis booster shot.
It is added to the diphtheria and tetanus shot that's recommended every ten years.
"These disease are not rare diseases that you won't encounter, they will hit home," Dr. Bergquist warns.
Doctors say the best way to protect yourself and your family is to roll up your sleeve.
The Walgreens survey showed fewer than half of participants had regular checkups, which is where they would learn if they needed a booster shot.