What are the vaccinations recommended for adults?

It is recommended that adults get vaccinations to protect against the following:

  • influenza (flu)
  • tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough), if a person has not previously received a Tdap vaccine
  • shingles for adults 50 and over
  • pneumococcal for adults 65 or older or adults with certain risk factors
  • hepatitis B for adults with diabetes or who are at risk

Some people will also need vaccines to protect against human papilloma virus (HPV), hepatitis A, meningococcal disease, chickenpox and measles, mumps and rubella.

It's important to keep in mind that people sometimes need to get immunized against illnesses if they weren't protected as a child. For example, people born after 1957 may need a measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, also known as MMR. Other times, people may need to get boosters because the vaccines can wear off over time. One example is the Td vaccine (tetanus and diphtheria), which needs to be repeated every 10 years.

Vaccines are widely available through doctors' offices, health departments, pharmacies and even some workplaces. Because recommendations change periodically, it's important to check with a healthcare provider to be sure of what vaccines are needed.

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Following is the vaccine schedule for adults:

Every year:

  • Influenza (flu)

Every 10 years:

  • Tetanus and diphtheria (Td) booster

Once or twice in a lifetime

  • Pneumococcal (Pneumonia): for all adults ages 65 or older, adults with asthma, adults with heart disease, adults with diabetes, other adults as recommended by your doctor
  • Zoster (shingles): two doses for adults age 50 and older

Many people think immunizations are only for small children, but vaccinations are an important part of a healthy life for teenagers and adults as well. Adolescents need to be immunized against tetanus, in addition to pertussis. One of the newer vaccines is Gardasil, which is used to protect young women and children at an early age from human papillomavirus.

Adults should get a regular tetanus and pertussis booster. Plus, everyone should get the flu vaccine each year. Senior adults should ask their doctor for vaccines that give them increased protection.

Doctors recommend a pneumonia vaccine for seniors. A newer vaccine for shingles is recommended for any adult who has had varicella (chicken pox) as a child.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.