Immunizations for Adults

Information about immunizations, including the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Making sure you get all the recommended vaccines is one of the most important ways to ensure your good health. Vaccines, also called immunizations, protect you from a host of diseases, including many that are deadly.

Every year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other expert panels release new recommendations for adult immunization schedules. The schedules change each year based on developments in vaccine research, disease outbreaks and other information.

With so many vaccines and yearly changes, it can get confusing. That's why it's important to work in partnership with your family doctor. Your doctor can help keep your immunizations up to date and keep copies of your immunization records.

Here is the most recent information from the CDC. These are in PDF form and can be printed.

Types of vaccines
Here is information about different types of vaccines you should get:

Tetanus, diphtheria (Td) or tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap)

Adults should get booster shots to protect against:

  • Tetanus. A potentially deadly illness that causes painful tightening of the muscles and locking of the jaw.
  • Diphtheria. An infection of the throat that can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure and death.
  • Pertussis. Also called whooping cough, this disease causes the buildup of sticky, thick mucus in the windpipe. Whooping cough can lead to pneumonia and seizures.

Influenza vaccine (shot) or influenza vaccine (nasal spray)

Certain adults should get a flu shot or inhaled vaccine each fall to protect against:

  • Influenza (flu). Influenza (flu) is a viral illness seen in the winter that causes fever, cough and muscle aches. It can lead to pneumonia, and kills tens of thousands of people every year.

Pneumococcal

Certain adults should get this vaccine to protect against:

  • Pneumococcal infections. The pneumococcal bacteria can cause serious infections of the lungs (pneumonia), the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and the blood (sepsis).

Measles, mumps and rubella

Generally, anyone 18 years of age or older who was born after 1956 should get this vaccine to protect against:

  • Measles. A highly contagious disease that can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage and death.
  • Mumps. A viral infection characterized by swelling of the salivary glands near the neck. It can lead to deafness, meningitis, painful swelling of the testicles or ovaries and, rarely, death.
  • Rubella. Also known as German measles, rubella is a viral illness that causes a rash, mild fever and arthritis (mostly in women). It can cause birth defects or miscarriage if a woman is infected during the first three months of her pregnancy.

Some adults, including pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions, should not get this vaccine. Ask your doctor for details.

Chickenpox

Adults who have not had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine should get this vaccine to protect against:

  • Chickenpox. Chickenpox (varicella) is a common childhood disease. It is usually mild, but it can be serious, especially in young infants, teens, pregnant women and adults. Chickenpox causes a rash that turns into blisters with itching. Other common symptoms include fever and fatigue. It can lead to severe skin infection, scars, pneumonia, brain damage or death.

Some adults, including pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions, should not get this vaccine. Ask your doctor for details.

Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B

Some adults should get a series of shots to protect against:

  • Hepatitis A. A viral disease that attacks the liver, causing flu-like symptoms, jaundice, nausea and stomach pains
  • Hepatitis B. A viral disease that can cause acute short-term symptoms, such as loss of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting, jaundice, pain in muscles, joints and stomach, and fatigue. It can also lead to liver failure and liver cancer.

Meningococcal

Some adults should get this vaccine to protect against:

  • Meningococcal infections. The meningococcal bacteria can cause a serious infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and blood (sepsis).

Shingles (herpes zoster)

Some adults should get this vaccine to protect against:

  • Shingles. This condition is caused by the herpes zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you've had chickenpox, the virus lies dormant (inactive) in your nerves. Later, often after decades, the virus may reactivate in the form of shingles.

Human papillomavirus

Some women should get a series of shots to protect against:

  • Human papillomavirus, or HPV. The HPV vaccine offers protection from the viruses that cause most cases of genital warts and cervical cancers.

Immunization schedule
Here is the CDC chart detailing the adult immunization schedule:

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/schedules/downloads/adult/mmwr-adult-schedule.pdf