Immunizations for Adults

Chrome 2001
Aetna Intelihealth InteliHealth Aetna Intelihealth Aetna Intelihealth
. .
Harvard Medical School
Chrome 2001
Chrome 2001

Immunizations for Adults

Healthy Lifestyle
Immunizations for Adults
Immunizations for Adults
Immunizations for Adults
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the following immunizations for adults.
InteliHealth Medical Content

Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Immunizations for Adults

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the following immunizations for adults:

Flu (influenza) vaccination

All adults should get a yearly flu shot unless they have had a severe allergic reaction to the flu short or allergic to egg protein. Healthy adults under age 50 may be able to receive a nose spray (FluMist) instead of a shot. You are at highest risk of getting influenza and/or developing complications from the infection if:

  • You are age 50 or older
  • You have a long-term (chronic) medical condition affecting the heart, lungs, brain or immune system
  • You have diabetes or major kidney or liver problems
  • You are pregnant
  • You live with or take care of anyone at high risk of flu complications, especially a child younger than 6 months of age (children under 6 months old cannot get flu shots)
  • You live in a nursing home or other long-term care facility
  • You are a health care worker

Pneumococcal pneumonia vaccination ("Pneumovax")

You should have the pneumococcal vaccine at least once in your life if:

  • You smoke
  • You have asthma
  • You live in a nursing home or other long-term-care center
  • You are older than 65
  • You have any of the medical problems mentioned in the flu shot section

You need a booster shot five years or more years after the first vaccination if:

  • You have kidney disease
  • You have sickle cell disease
  • Your spleen has been surgically removed or doesn't function normally
  • You have trouble with your immune system
  • You are older than 65 and received your first vaccination at age younger than 65

Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis ("Td" and "Tdap")

Most people these shots in childhood. But everyone needs a booster for tetanus and diphtheria every 10 years. One time in your adult years, your shot should include a pertussis (whooping cough) booster. Adolescents and adults don't usually get severely ill from whooping cough, which can cause uncomfortable symptoms for several months.

Human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine ("Gardasil")

Three doses are recommended for all girls and women 9 through 26 years old, and for boys and men 9 through 21 years old. This protects against the virus that causes genital warts and cervical cancer. The shots should precede the start of sexual activity for the best protection. The follow-up doses should occur at two months and six months from the first vaccine date.

Varicella "part 1" (chickenpox vaccine)

If you had chickenpox in the past, you won't get it again. If not, you need two doses of the vaccine to be protected. Most people born before 1980 are probably protected because most of them had chickenpox as children. Protection against the virus means that, if exposed to infection, you would not get the rash, fever, and possibly serious pneumonia that can come with an adult chicken pox.

Varicella "part 2" (shingles vaccine, "Zostavax")

Chickenpox and shingles are caused by the same virus, varicella. To prevent shingles, you need a one-time vaccination after age 60, even if you have previously had shingles. People who are immune to chickenpox can still get the shingles, a painful skin rash. It's also called herpes zoster. This occurs because the varicella virus can hide from your immune system in small knots of nerve tissue next to your spine, called dorsal roots. The virus then can attack later in life. The shingles rash appears just on the area of skin that has nerve connections to the dorsal root. Anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles.

Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR)

Most younger adults had shots in their childhood to prevent measles, mumps, and rubella, but many people need a booster. About 9 out of 10 adults born before 1957 were infected as children and have strong immunity. But younger adults and health care workers of any age may need a booster. You need a booster if:

  • You live near a measles or mumps outbreak or you have been exposed to measles
  • You are about to attend college (or another institution where people gather in very large, close-knit groups)
  • You plan to travel to another country
  • You might have received a less potent version of the MMR as a child. People who received this "killed" vaccine are mostly ages 43 to 47 now. If you are unsure about your immunity, a blood test can check for antibodies, or you can simply get a booster shot.

Hepatitis B vaccination

Hepatitis B is spread through sexual contact, contact with blood, and sometimes contact with an infected person. Ask your doctor if you need the three shots in the hepatitis B series. It is recommended for people who:

  • Have sex with more than one partner
  • Have liver disease, or kidney disease and need dialysis
  • Are infected with HIV or practice high risk behavior
  • Work in health care

Hepatitis A vaccination

Two doses are given. You need this vaccine if:

  • You plan to travel to a country with high rates of hepatitis A
  • You have liver disease
  • You are a man who has sex with men
  • In some cases, if you use illegal drugs

Meningococcal vaccine

A one-time vaccine is now routinely recommended for children ages 11 to 18. Adults need this vaccine if they:

  • Plan to attend college or enter the military
  • Don't have a spleen
  • Have certain immune deficiencies

Some of the vaccines above are live virus vaccines. Live vaccines might be not given to people with weakened immune systems, or people who have close contact with such a person. Ask your doctor whether this concern applies to you.


vaccine,shingles,chickenpox,immune,virus,measles,vaccination,health care,hepatitis b,liver,mumps,varicella,diphtheria,flu shot,hepatitis a,immunity,immunizations,influenza,kidney disease,nerve,pneumonia,rash,sex,spleen,whooping cough
Last updated October 16, 2012

    Print Printer-friendly format    
This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify.