Immunizations for Adults
Get information about immunizations, including the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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myoh_immunizationsadults.gif Immunizations for Adults

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. And sometimes the CDC will recommend specific immunizations prior to the annual schedule release if the situation warrants an earlier recommendation.

With so many vaccines and yearly changes (and sometimes sooner), it can get confusing. That's why it's important to work in partnership with your 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) 
Click here for the CDC's Vaccine Information Statement
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. Because the disease may cause death in susceptible infants, the CDC says: Getting vaccinated with Tdap -- at least two weeks before coming into close contact with an infant -- is especially important for families with and caregivers of new infants.

Influenza vaccine (shot) or influenza vaccine (nasal spray) 
Click here for the CDC's Vaccine Information Statement – Shot
Click here for the CDC's Vaccine Information Statement – Nasal Spray

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

  • Influenza (flu). A viral illness seen in the winter that causes fever, cough and muscle aches. It can be complicated by pneumonia, and kills tens of thousands of people every year.

Pneumococcal 
Click here for the CDC's Vaccine Information Statement
Certain adults should get this vaccine to protect against:

  • Pneumococcal infections. Pneumococcal bacteria can cause serious infections of the lungs (pneumonia), the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and the blood (sepsis). This shot provides protection against the bacterium.

Measles, mumps and rubella 
Click here for the CDC's Vaccine Information Statement
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 
Click here for the CDC's Vaccine Information Statement
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 
Click here for the CDC's Vaccine Information Statement – Hepatitis A
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 
Click here for the CDC's Vaccine Information Statement – Hepatitis B
Some adults should get a series of shots to protect against:

  • 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. Unvaccinated people ages 19 through 59 who have diabetes mellitus should be vaccinated as soon as possible after they're diagnosed with diabetes. Those age 60 or older who have diabetes mellitus, may also receive the vaccine if it's recommended by their doctor. This recommendation is based on the person's individual situation.

Meningococcal 
Click here for the CDC's Vaccine Information Statement
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) 
Click here for the CDC's Vaccine Information Statement
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 
Click here for the CDC's Vaccine Information Statement – Gardasil
Click here for the CDC's Vaccine Information Statement - Cervarix
Some young women and men 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: Recommended Immunization Schedule for Adults.

By Nancy Reid, Contributing Writer
Created on 11/22/2000
Updated on 02/04/2013
Sources:
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccine information statements.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccines and immunizations.
Copyright © OptumHealth.
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