What Is Adult Vaccines?


Adult Vaccines

Every year, thousands of adults in the United States get sick and are hospitalized from vaccine-preventable diseases. Getting vaccinated will help you stay healthy, so you’ll miss less work and also have more time for your family and friends.

And did you know that when you get vaccinated, you also help protect your family and your community? Because of community immunity, vaccines help keep diseases from spreading to people who may not be able to get certain vaccines, like newborn babies. Learn more about community immunity.

The vaccine information and schedules for:

  • Adults ages 19 through 26
  • Adults ages 27 through 64
  • Adults age 65 and older

Why do I need more?

Adults need vaccines for several reasons. For example: Some vaccines are recommended only for adults, who are more at risk for certain diseases — like shingles.

Protection from childhood vaccines wears off over time so you need additional doses of certain vaccines to stay protected.

You may not have gotten some of the newer vaccines that are now available.

Some viruses, like the virus that causes the flu, can change over time.

You may be at increased risk for diseases based on travel plans, your job, or health conditions.

How do I know which vaccinations I’ve had and which ones I need?

To find out which vaccinations you’ve had, you’ll need to find your vaccination record. Your vaccination record is the history of all the vaccines you’ve had as a child and as an adult. To find your vaccination record:


Ask your parentshttps://www.healthinfi.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/healthinfi.png310x-e1517999292879.jpg or caregivers if they have your vaccination record.

Contact current or previous doctors and ask for your record.

Contact your state health department — some states have registries (immunization information systems) that can provide information about your vaccination records.

If you can’t find your record, ask your doctor if you should get some vaccinations again.

You’re never too old to get vaccines. In fact, sticking to an immunization schedule as you age gives you the best shot at long-term health.

“An ounce of prevention is really worth a pound of cure,” says Evan Anderson, MD. “Many adults are at risk of vaccine-preventable illnesses, and sometimes the damage is done after an infection has set in.

“So being able to prevent illness is better than trying to treat it once it’s set in.”

If you’re not sure of your immunization status, talk to your doctor.  Meantime, here’s some of the ones you want to make sure you’re up to date on.


Doctors agree your best protection against it is the flu vaccine.

Anderson says your risk of having the flu is cut by about half if you get the shot. If you still come down with it after you’ve been vaccinated, it’s likely to be shorter and less severe.

Who should get it: Everyone — young, old, and in between — should get a flu shot, but especially pregnant women, people with long-term health issues, and people over 65.

Who shouldn’t get it: If you’ve had a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction to the flu vaccine, or are allergic to eggs, or have had Guillain-Barre syndrome (which causes tingling, weakness, and loss of movement in your muscles), talk to your doctor about whether you should get it.

When to get it: It’s important to get a shot every year. Each will last just one flu season because the virus evolves. So what worked this year may not work as well next year.

Typically, people come down with it between November and April, Anderson says. You should look for a new vaccine batch to hit your doctor’s office in late August or September.


This stands for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). All three can cause serious illness or death.  Tetanus and diphtheria cases have gone down 99% since this vaccine was introduced. Whooping cough cases have fallen by 80%.

Who should get it: Everyone. It’s also a safeguard for those most vulnerable to the diseases, like people with compromised immune systems.

If you’re pregnant, it’s especially critical to get the Tdap vaccine. It gives your baby short-term protection against whooping cough.

Who shouldn’t get it: If you’ve had seizures or an allergic reaction to Tdap, you may need to avoid it.

When to get it: If you’re pregnant, you should get the vaccine between your 27th and 36th week. (Your baby will get his own vaccine, called DTaP, once he’s born.) Everyone should have a booster for tetanus and diphtheria (called a Td) every 10 years, or any time you’re exposed to tetanus. If you work with or are around infants, be sure to get your Tdap at least two weeks before coming into contact with them.

Hepatitis A and B

These are two viruses that infect your liver. Between 2,000 and 3,000 people get hepatitis A each year. About the same number get hepatitis B. The vaccine will protect adults for at least 25 years.

Who should get it: Anyone can get hepatitis A or B, but you’re most at risk if you:

  • Travel outside the country
  • Are a man who has sex with other men
  • Use illegal drugs
  • Have a clotting-factor disorder, like hemophilia
  • Come into regular, close contact with someone with hepatitis A
  • Have a chronic liver disease

Who shouldn’t get it: If you have allergies to anything in the hepatitis A or B vaccine, talk to your doctor. If you’re sick when you’re scheduled to get either shot, move the appointment to when you’re well. If you’re pregnant, ask your doctor before getting the hepatitis A shot.

How you get it: The hepatitis A vaccine comes in two doses, 6 months apart. The hepatitis B vaccine takes three shots. There is also a combination vaccine that protects against hepatitis A and B. It comes in three doses.


This stands for human papillomavirus. The infection it causes can lead to cervical, vulvar, and vaginal cancers in women, and penile cancer in men. It can also cause anal cancer, throat cancer, and genital warts.

Who should get it: The HPV vaccine is recommended for boys and girls at age 11 or 12 so they’re protected before ever being exposed to the virus. However, women younger than 26 and men who aren’t yet 21 can still get it. Men who are in sexual relationships with other men can get the vaccine until age 26.

Who shouldn’t get it: People who are allergic to it or are pregnant.

How you get it: The HPV vaccine comes in three doses. Your doctor will give you the second shot a month or two after the first. You’ll get the third dose 6 months after the opener.


Infection with this bacteria can lead to pneumonia, meningitis, blood infections, and death. There are two vaccines for it: PCV13 (called pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) and PPSV23 (pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine).

Who should get it: Your doctor should recommend this vaccine once you turn 65. If you are at least 19 years old, you should also consider it if you:

  • Live with chronic illness
  • Have sickle cell disease
  • Have a cochlear implant
  • Have a transplanted organ
  • Have HIV or another illness that affects your immune system

You’re also at higher risk of getting the disease if you smoke.

Who shouldn’t get it: Those who know they’re allergic to the vaccine.

When you should get it: The CDC recommends 2 pneumococcal vaccines for all adults 65 years or older.  You should receive a dose of PCV13 first, followed by a dose of PPSV23 at least 1 year later.

The MMR vaccine, as it’s called, protects against all three of these highly contagious diseases. The number of measles cases in the U.S. is on the rise. This is because more and more people aren’t immunized.

Who should get it: If you were born after 1957, haven’t gotten your MMR vaccine, and have never had measles, you should see your doctor about getting the shot. It’s also good for

  • College students
  • Teachers
  • Health care workers
  • People who travel outside the U.S.

Who shouldn’t get it: If you’re pregnant, have HIV or AIDS, are taking medication for cancer, or have a blood disorder, avoid it. Also, if you’ve had another vaccine within four weeks, recently had a blood transfusion, or are ill, you may need to delay your shot.

How you get it: It comes in one dose, given by your doctor.


Kids get this vaccine as part of their routine checkups. But it wasn’t around before 1995. Now, the number of people with chickenpox is at an all-time low in the U.S.

Who should get the vaccine: If it wasn’t around when you were a child, you should think about getting it, especially if you:

  • Work in health care
  • Work or live with children
  • Are in college
  • Work in a jail or prison
  • Are in the military
  • Are of childbearing age
  • Travel to other countries

Who shouldn’t get it: If you’re pregnant, wait until one month after your baby’s born. Talk with your doctor first if:

  • You’ve had a blood transfusion
  • You have HIV, AIDS, or cancer
  • You’re taking medicine for any of the above diseases

How you get it: The vaccine comes in two doses. Your doctor will give them to you 28 days apart.


Its actual name is the herpes zoster virus. The vaccine for it has been around only since 2006. It’s reduced shingles cases in the U.S. by 51%. It also protects against a condition called postherpetic neuralgia. That’s a complication that brings burning pain after the symptoms of shingles go away.

Who should get the vaccine: Adults older than 60. You should have it even if you had chickenpox, which comes from the same virus as shingles. You should also have it if you’ve already had shingles.

Who shouldn’t get it: If you’re allergic to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin, you should stay away from it. Don’t get it if you’re pregnant, or if you have a weakened immune system from illness or medications.

How you get it: It comes in a one-dose shot, given by your doctor.

Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR)

You should receive the vaccine if you:

  • Are a woman considering getting pregnant and do not know if you are immune to rubella.
  • Are a health care worker with no history of measles or mumps and only received one dose of MMR vaccine.
  • Were born in 1957 or later and never received an MMR vaccination.
  • Were born in 1957 or later, fall into one of the following groups, and only received one dose of MMR vaccine:
  • Entering college or post high school educational institution
  • Had a blood test that confirms no immunity to MMR
  • Travel internationally


You should receive the vaccine if you:

  • Are or will be a college freshman living in a dorm.
  • Are traveling to an area of the world where the disease is common.
  • Have sickle cell disease.
  • Have a non-functioning spleen or your spleen has been removed.
  • Have a terminal complement component deficiency.


You should receive one pneumonia vaccine before the age of 65 if you:

  • Have asthma
  • Smoke cigarettes
  • Have a diabetes or heart, lung, liver, kidney or sickle cell disease
  • Alcoholism
  • Have had an organ or bone marrow transplant
  • Had spleen removed
  • A cochlear implant
  • Spinal fluid leak


Rubella is a viral disease caused by inhalation of virus-containing droplets in the air. It is characterized by rash, fever, and painful swollen lymph nodes. There may be a variety of other symptoms. The most devastating complication is infection of the fetus during the first trimester of pregnancy. This usually leads to development of congenital rubella. Exposed babies can later develop a variety of disorders such as cataracts at a young age, glaucoma, hearing loss, retardation, and heart defects. Pregnant women may also have an increased rate of miscarriage. In 1967, the licensing of the vaccine dramatically decreased the number of reported cases.

Who gets the vaccine:

The measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines contain live viruses. They are usually combined into a single vaccine (MMR) given as a first dose to children aged 12-15 months; the second dose is given prior to kindergarten (or the first opportunity thereafter). In adults, the MMR vaccine is recommended for these groups:

  • Adults born in 1957 or later and who are older than 18 years should receive one dose.
  • High-risk groups, such as health-care workers, college entrants, and international travelers, should receive two doses total.
  • Adults born before 1957 are typically considered immune to mumps and measles if proof is provided.

Females of childbearing age (regardless of age and year of birth) without evidence of immunity should be immunized. Women should not receive an MMR vaccination while pregnant or if they may become pregnant within four weeks of receiving the vaccine.

Side effects:

Rash, itching, fever, and joint pains are common. Anyone who has had a previous reaction to the vaccine should avoid it. Women anticipating pregnancy within four weeks of vaccination and people with weakened immune systems should also avoid it. Breastfeeding is not a contraindication. Allow four to six weeks between doses.

Meningococcal Infections

Meningococcal (Neisseria meningitidis) infections are most common in close living conditions (such as college dormitories, military barracks, or child-care centers). The infection may invade the bloodstream or the brain (meningitis). Symptoms come on rapidly and can sometimes be quite severe (leading to shock, coma, or death). Meningitis caused by meningococcal bacteria is difficult to distinguish from that of other bacteria that cause meningitis, making the disease more difficult to recognize and treat.

Routine immunization in children is not recommended because the infection is rare, response to the vaccine is poor in young children, the immunity to meningococcal does not last in young children, and early vaccination may later impair response to the vaccine.

Types of meningococcal vaccine:

Meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (MPSV4): used for children 2-10 years of age

Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4): used for adolescents and adults (although MPSV4 is an acceptable alternative)

Serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) vaccine can help prevent meningococcal disease caused by Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B. Other meningococcal vaccines are recommended to help protect against Neisseria meningitidis serogroups A, C, W, and Y.

Who gets the vaccine:

Children 2 years of age or older in high-risk groups (those who have had their spleen removed or those with suppressed immune system, such as terminal complement deficiencies)

Adolescents 11-12 years of age and unvaccinated adolescents entering high school should be vaccinated with a single dose of a quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY). The CDC recommends a booster shot at age 16.

College students, military recruits, laboratory workers exposed to meningococcal vaccine components, and those traveling to hyperendemic or epidemic areas

Side effects

Pain, swelling and redness at site of injection may occur one to two days following immunization.

Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (Hib)

Selected conditions exist in which Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) conjugate vaccine may be used for adults. Hib vaccines are licensed for children 6 weeks to 71 months of age. No efficacy data is available on which to base a recommendation concerning the use of Hib vaccine for older children and adults with the chronic conditions associated with an increased risk for Hib disease. However, studies suggest that Hib vaccine may be beneficial in patients who have sickle cell disease, leukemia, or HIV infection, or have had splenectomies.

When given: The first dose of Hib is given at 2 months of age, the second dose at 4 months, the third dose at 6 months (if needed, depending on brand of vaccine), and a final/booster dose given at 12-15 months of age.

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