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Adults: You never outgrow the need for vaccinations

Think you’re all done with vaccinations just because you’re an adult? Think again. Each year, thousands of adults are sickened or hospitalized because of vaccine-preventable diseases. Also, making sure your vaccinations are up to date doesn’t just protect you. It protects your loved ones, your friends and neighbors, and especially children and adults who are too young or too sick to receive vaccines.

To help you stay healthy and protect everyone you love, here’s a handy reference table of vaccinations that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend for every adult, when you need to get them, and why it’s important.

CDC Recommended vaccinations for adults

Who needs it?
How often?
Why do you need it?
Seasonal influenza (flu) vaccine
Every year in late September or early October
The flu can be serious, especially for children, older adults and adults with chronic conditions. New vaccines are released every year to adapt to the rapidly evolving flu virus strains. Also, your body’s immunity declines over time, so last year’s flu shot won’t protect you this year.
Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap)
Every 10 years
Tetanus and diphtheria are rare but serious bacterial infections that can be fatal. Tetanus can enter the body through a tiny scratch or puncture in the skin. Diphtheria is highly contagious. Pertussis, or whooping cough, isn’t usually life-threatening in adults. But adults frequently spread it to infants, who can become seriously ill or die from it.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
Adults up to age 26 who were not vaccinated as adolescents
HPV Vaccines protect against 70 percent of cervical cancers and many other types of cancer in men and women.
Meningococcal meningitis
Age 18 if you were not vaccinated as an adolescent
Early meningitis symptoms can be mild and often mistaken for the flu. But the disease can progress very quickly and kill an otherwise healthy person within 48 hours. Approximately one in 10 people who get meningococcal meningitis die from it, even when they’re treated quickly and aggressively. Many survivors suffer permanent complications including brain and kidney damage.
Hepatitis A and B
Adults age 19 and older
Both types of hepatitis are usually mild, but some cases can lead to serious liver problems, liver cancer and even death.
Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)
Adults born before 1957
These diseases are on the rise in the U.S., and they are extremely contagious. While not typically life-threatening in adults, they can make you very sick, and they can be fatal in children who have not been immunized.
Adults age 50 and older
Two shots every 5 years
As you age, your risk of shingles increases. Not only is it extraordinarily painful, it’s also contagious.
Pneumococcal vaccines
Adults age 65 or older
Once, although some doctors recommend every 5-10 years
Pneumococcal disease can cause very serious illnesses like pneumonia, meningitis and bacterial infection of the bloodstream (sepsis). It kills about 18,000 adults age 65 or older each year. It can also cause lifelong complications including heart problems.

The risks of vaccinations are FAR lower than the risks of skipping them

Like any medication, there are some risks associated with vaccines. Most side-effects are mild and pass within a day or two. Serious reactions are extremely rare, and vaccines are constantly monitored for safety. The consequences of not getting immunized are much greater than the risks. Plus getting immunized also protects your loved ones – especially those who are too young or too sick to receive vaccinations.

So be a grown up. Protect yourself and your loved ones, and get your vaccines.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Raffaelo Zucco