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You might think that vaccines are only for children – but in truth they’re valuable for adults as well. Are you one of the millions of adults not aware of the vaccines you need?

There are many reasons why adults should be vaccinated. Each year, tens of thousands of adults needlessly suffer, are hospitalized, and even die as a result of diseases that could be prevented by vaccines. Not only can vaccine-preventable diseases make you very sick, but if you get sick, you may risk spreading certain diseases to others. That’s a risk most of us do not want to take. Infants, older adults and people with weakened immune systems (like those undergoing cancer treatment) are especially vulnerable to infectious diseases. They are also more likely to have severe illness and complications if they do get sick. You can help protect your health and the health of your loved ones by getting your recommended vaccines.

All adults should get an annual flu vaccine to protect against seasonal flu. Tdap vaccine is recommended for all adults age 19 and older who did not get Tdap as an adolescent to protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). Tdap is especially important for adults who will have close contact with newborn babies or infants younger than age 1. After receiving the Tdap vaccine, adults should continue to get a Td booster every 10 years. Expectant mothers should receive the Tdap vaccine between 27-36 weeks of each pregnancy.

You may also need other vaccines based on your age, health conditions (like chronic lung conditions, heart disease, or diabetes) occupation and other factors. If you are planning to travel outside of the U.S., check on any additional vaccines you may need. Some travel-related vaccines are part of a series or are needed months prior to your travel to be most effective, so be sure to plan ahead.

The good news is that getting vaccinated is easier than you think. Adults can get vaccines at doctors’ offices, local boards of health, pharmacies, workplaces, and health clinics.  Ask your doctor or visit vaccine.healthmap.org to help find a vaccine provider near you. Most health insurance plans cover the cost of recommended vaccines – a call to your insurance provider can give you the details.

Not sure what vaccines you may need? The CDC offers a short quiz to help you find out which vaccines you might need. You can take the results to your doctor to see what is best for you. There is also an easy to read schedule to help determine which vaccines are right for you.

What vaccines do you need?

All adults should get:

  • Annual flu vaccine to protect against seasonal flu
  • Td/Tdap to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis

Some additional vaccines you may need (depending on your age, health conditions and other factors) include:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Meningococcal
  • Pneumococcal
  • Shingles

Traveling overseas? There may be additional vaccines you need depending on the location. Find out more at www.cdc.gov/travel.

Written By:


Immunization Outreach Coordinator in the Bureau of Infectious Disease

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