By: Red Hot Mamas
Published: August 9, 2016
All adults should get vaccines to protect their health. Even healthy adults can become seriously ill, and can pass certain illnesses on to others. Everyone should have their vaccination needs assessed at their doctor’s office, pharmacy or other visits with healthcare providers. Certain vaccines are recommended based on a person’s age, occupation or health conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes or heart disease.
Vaccination is important because it not only protects the person receiving the vaccine, but also helps prevent the spread of disease, especially to those that are most vulnerable to serious complications such as infants and young children, elderly, and those with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems.
All adults, including pregnant women, should get the influenza (flu) vaccine each year to protect against seasonal flu. Every adult should have one dose of Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis or whooping cough) if they did not get Tdap as a teen, and then get the Td (tetanus and diphtheria) booster vaccine every 10 years. In addition, pregnant women are recommended to get the Tdap vaccine each time they are pregnant, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks.
Adults 60 year and older are recommended to receive the shingles vaccine. And adults 65 and older are recommended to receive one or more pneumococcal vaccines. Some adults younger than 65 years with certain high risk conditions are also recommended to receive one or more pneumococcal vaccinations.
Adults may need other vaccines – such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B and HPV – depending on their age, occupation, travel, medical conditions, vaccinations they have already received or other considerations.
Vaccines are an important step in protecting adults against several serious, and sometimes deadly, diseases.
- The need for vaccinations does not end in childhood. Vaccines are recommended throughout our lives based on age, lifestyle, occupation, travel destinations, medical conditions and vaccines received in the past.
- The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) updates vaccine recommendations for adults each year based on the latest research on vaccine safety, effectiveness, and patterns of vaccine-preventable diseases.
- ACIP’s vaccination recommendations also are reviewed and approved by professional medical provider organizations, including the American College of Physicians, American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and American College of Nurse-Midwives.
Every year, tens of thousands of adults in the U.S. needlessly suffer, are hospitalized, and even die from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines.
- Each year, an average of 226,000 people are hospitalized due to influenza and between 3,000 and 49,000 people die of influenza and its complications, the majority are among adults.
- About 900,000 people get pneumococcal pneumonia every year, leading to as many as 400,000 hospitalizations and 19,000 deaths,
- 700,000 to 1.4 million people suffer from chronic hepatitis B, with complications such as liver cancer.
- In the U.S., HPV causes about 17,000 cancers in women, and about 9,000 cancers in men each year. About 4,000 women die each year from cervical cancer.
- Of the approximately one million cases of shingles that occur annually, up to one in five cases (10-20%) will involve the eye.
Vaccines are recommended for adults to prevent serious diseases such as influenza (flu), shingles, pneumonia, hepatitis, and whooping cough.
- Older adults and adults with certain chronic conditions are at increased risk for serious complications from vaccine-preventable diseases.
- Many of these diseases are common in the U.S., and all adults – even healthy adults – can benefit from vaccination.
- Some vaccines can help prevent cancer. Hepatitis B vaccine can prevent liver cancer that can develop after developing chronic hepatitis B. The HPV vaccine can prevent cancers caused by HPV infection, including cervical, vaginal, vulvar and anal cancers.
- Vaccination is important because it not only protects the person being vaccinated, but also helps prevent the spread of diseases to others – especially those who are most vulnerable to serious complications, such as young children, older people, and people with certain chronic conditions or weakened immune systems.
Most adults have probably not received all the vaccines they need.
- Unfortunately, far too few adults are receiving the recommended vaccines, leaving themselves and their loved ones vulnerable to serious diseases.
- According to CDC data,:
- Only 20% of adults 19 years or older had received Tdap vaccination. – National Health Interview Survey 2014
- Only 28% of adults 60 years or older had received shingles (herpes zoster) vaccination. – National Health Interview Survey 2014
- Only 20% of adults 19 to 64 years at increased risk had received pneumococcal vaccination. – National Health Interview Survey 2014
- Health care professionals play a critical role in educating their patients about recommended vaccines and ensuring that they are fully immunized.
- CDC asks ALL health care professionals – whether they provide immunization services or not – to routinely assess the vaccine needs of their patients and make a strong recommendation for needed vaccinations.
- Adults should talk with their health care professional to learn which vaccines are recommended for them, and take steps to get up to date.
Vaccines are very safe.
- Vaccines are thoroughly tested before licensing and carefully monitored even after they are licensed to ensure that they are very safe.
- Side effects from vaccines are usually mild and temporary.
- Some people may have allergic reactions to certain vaccines, but serious and long-term side effects are rare.
Talk with your health care professional about which vaccines are right for you based on your age, health, job, lifestyle, and other factors.
- Take CDC’s vaccine quiz (cdc.gov/vaccines/adultquiz) to find which vaccines may be recommended for you.
- Vaccines are available at private doctor offices, as well as other convenient locations such as pharmacies, workplaces, community health clinics and health departments.
- To find a vaccine provider near you, visit:
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine each season. A yearly flu vaccine is recommended for everyone age 6 months and older, with rare exception.Flu (Influenza) Vaccine
- While everyone should get vaccinated, certain people are at higher risk of serious complications if they get the flu, including: people 65 years and older; children younger than 5 years, but especially those younger than 2 years; pregnant women; people with certain health conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes or heart disease; and people living in facilities like nursing homes. For the complete list of high risk factors, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/high_risk.htm.
- Annual flu vaccination also is important for anyone who lives with or cares for people at high risk of serious flu-related complications.
- Flu is unpredictable and how severe it is can vary widely from one season to the next depending on many factors, including: what flu viruses are spreading, how much flu vaccine is available, when flu vaccine is available, how many people get vaccinated, and how well flu vaccine are working that season.
- Significant flu activity can begin as early as October, last as late as May, and typically peaks in February.
- It takes about two weeks after flu vaccination for antibodies to develop for protection against influenza virus infection.
- It’s best to get vaccinated before the flu season begins. Though flu seasons vary in their timing from season to season, getting vaccinated by the end of October helps ensure that you are protected before flu activity begins to increase. Some young children need two doses of flu vaccine, given at least 4 weeks apart. These children should get their first dose as soon as possible to allow enough time to get the second dose before flu season starts.
- Flu vaccines will not protect against flu-like illnesses caused by non-influenza viruses.
- Complications of flu can include viral and/or bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, bronchitis, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes.
- One study estimated that the seasonal flu vaccine prevented more than 40,000 flu-associated deaths in the United States during a nine year period: 2005/06 – 2013/14.
Td and Tdap Vaccines
- Adults should get a tetanus and diphtheria (Td) booster every 10 years.
- Adults should also get a tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (or whooping cough) vaccine called Tdap if they did not get it as a preteen or teen.
- Tdap vaccine is especially important for adults who will have close contact with babies younger than 1 year old.
- Adults can get Tdap at any time, regardless of when they last got Td.
- Tdap vaccination is also recommended for pregnant women during each pregnancy, ideally during the third trimester (27 through 36 weeks), to help protect their newborns from whooping cough.
- Tdap vaccine can be safely given at any time during pregnancy, but is recommended during the third trimester to pass the most amount of protection to the baby.
- Tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough are all caused by bacteria.
- Both diphtheria and whooping cough are spread from person to person.
- Tetanus enters the body through cuts, scratches, or wounds.
- In the United States, tetanus and diphtheria are uncommon, but whooping cough is common. Whooping cough has also been on the rise in recent years. More than 18,000 cases of whooping cough were provisionally reported in 2015.
- While whooping cough can be serious for anyone, it is very serious, and even deadly, for babies. Some people with whooping cough may just have a mild cough or what seems like a common cold. Since symptoms can vary, adults may not know they have whooping cough and can end up spreading it to babies they are in close contact with.
- Both Td and Tdap vaccines work very well in protecting people from tetanus and diphtheria. The whooping cough part of Tdap is effective, but it does not protect as well as we would like and may only protect against whooping cough for a few years.
- Adults need to get vaccinated for protection against tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough, even if they were vaccinated as a child or have been sick with any of these diseases in the past; neither provides lifelong protection.
Hepatitis A Vaccine
- Hepatitis A is an infection in the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus. This disease is often spread when a person ingests fecal matter from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by feces or stool from an infected person.
- Not everyone has symptoms. If symptoms develop, there may be fever, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite, joint pain, fatigue, jaundice (yellowing of skin or eyes), dark urine, grey-colored stools. An infected person may have mild illness for a week or two, or may have severe illness for several months that requires hospitalization.
- In 2014, there were approximately 2,500 acute hepatitis A infections in the United States.
- Although anyone can get hepatitis A, in the United States, certain groups of people are at higher risk, such as those who:
- Travel to or live in countries where hepatitis A is common
- Are men who have sexual contact with other men
- Use illegal drugs, whether injected or not
- Have clotting-factor disorders, such as hemophilia
- Live with someone who has hepatitis A
- Have oral-anal sexual contact with someone who has hepatitis A
- The best way to prevent hepatitis A is through vaccination with the hepatitis A vaccine.
- Any adult who is at risk for hepatitis A virus infection or who wants to be vaccinated should talk to a health professional about getting the vaccine series.
- The hepatitis A vaccine is highly effective in preventing hepatitis A virus infection. Protection begins approximately 2 to 4 weeks after the first injection. A second injection results in long-term protection.
Hepatitis B Vaccine
- Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus. This is a blood-borne disease and can be very serious.
- Hepatitis B causes a flu-like illness with loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, rashes, joint pain, and jaundice. The virus stays in the liver of some people for the rest of their lives and can result in severe liver diseases, including liver cancer.
- In 2014, there were approximately 20,000 new hepatitis B virus infections in the United States.
- Adults who are at risk for hepatitis B infection, such as healthcare workers, and adults who have certain chronic health conditions like diabetes, renal disease, chronic liver disease, or HIV infection and adults who are at risk of sexually transmitted infections, should get three doses of hepatitis B vaccine.
- Any adult who is at risk for hepatitis B virus infection or who wants to be vaccinated should talk to a health professional about getting the vaccine series
- The hepatitis B vaccine is very effective at preventing hepatitis B virus infection. After receiving all three doses, hepatitis B vaccine provides greater than 90% protection to infants, children, and adults immunized before being exposed to the virus.
Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Vaccine
- One dose of shingles (herpes zoster) vaccine is recommended for adults aged 60 years or older.
- Shingles is caused by varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus states dormant in the body, but can reactivate later in life and cause shingles.
- Pain from shingles rash, called post-herpetic neuralgia, is the most common complication and can be very severe. Another complication occurs when the herpes zoster affects the eye or area around the eye, called herpes zoster ophthalmicus.
- Almost 1 out of 3 people in the United States will develop shingles during their lifetime.
- In people 60 years and older, the shingles vaccine:
- reduces the risk of shingles by about half (51%)
- reduces the risk of post-herpetic neuralgia by 67%
- Protection against shingles wanes within the first 5 years after a person is vaccinated; protection after 5 years is uncertain.
- Two vaccines are recommended for adults to prevent pneumococcal disease: pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23).
- Pneumococcal disease can cause serious infections of the lungs (pneumonia), covering of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis), and blood (bacteremia). Meningitis and bacteremia are considered invasive pneumococcal infections.
- PCV13 protects against 13 of the approximately 90 types of pneumococcal bacteria that can cause pneumococcal disease. PCV13 helps protect against invasive pneumococcal infections and pneumococcal pneumonia.
- PPSV23 protects against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria. This vaccine helps protect against invasive pneumococcal infections.
- PCV13 is recommended for adults with certain medical conditions and all adults 65 years or older. Talk to your healthcare professional to see if PCV13 is recommended for you.
- PPSV23 is recommended for adults who smoke cigarettes, have asthma, or are at increased risk for disease. It is also recommended for all adults 65 years or older. Talk to your healthcare professional to see if PPSV23 is recommended for you.
- PCV13 and PPSV23 cannot be given during the same visit. If you need both vaccines, PCV13 should be given first. Then talk with your doctor about the best time for you to get PPSV23.
- Most (>95%) pneumococcal deaths in the United States are in adults. Yet about 67 million adults at increased risk remain unvaccinated, leaving them vulnerable. Vaccination is the safest, most effective way to reduce your risk of severe disease from pneumococcal infection. Each year in the United States, about 520,000 adults 65 years or older get pneumococcal disease and about 18,000 of them die from their illness.
- The majority of cases and deaths occur among adults 50 years or older, with the highest rates among those 65 years or older. Almost everyone who gets invasive pneumococcal disease needs treatment in the hospital.
- Studies estimate that PCV13 protects
- 75 out of 100 adults 65 years or older against invasive pneumococcal disease
- 45 out of 100 adults against pneumococcal pneumonia
- Overall, PPSV23 protects between 50 to 85 out of 100 adults against invasive pneumococcal disease.
- Effectiveness is highest among otherwise healthy adults.
- Effectiveness is lowest among adults who have significant underlying illness.
- Vaccines are thoroughly tested and monitored for safety.
- Vaccines are tested in clinical trials with thousands of volunteers and are shown to be safe and effective before being licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- Both the CDC and FDA continue to monitor vaccines after they are licensed.
- Vaccine side effects are usually mild and temporary (go away in a few days).
- The most common side effects are soreness, redness or swelling where the shot was given.
- Severe side effects are very rare.
- Vaccines are one of the safest ways to protect your health.
- Even people taking prescription medications can be vaccinated. However, if you are pregnant, or have a weakened immune system, talk with your health care professional before being vaccinated, as some vaccines may not be recommended for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently asked questions can be a helpful tool for developing web content, fact sheets, newsletters, and other educational materials to answer your constituents’ questions about vaccines.
Why do adults need vaccines?
Vaccines are recommended throughout your life. Even if you were fully vaccinated as a child, you may be at risk for other diseases due to your age, job, lifestyle, travel, or health condition. In addition, the protection from some vaccines can wear off over time. All adults need vaccinations to protect against serious diseases that could result in severe illness requiring medical treatment or even hospitalization, missed work, and not being able to care for family.
Are vaccine-preventable diseases really a threat for adults?
Every year, thousands of adults in the U.S. suffer serious health problems, are hospitalized, and even die from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines. Many of these diseases are common in the U.S. For example, in 2014, there were about 27,000 cases of invasive pneumococcal disease and 3,200 deaths among adults ages 19 and older. In addition, about 1 million cases of shingles and millions of cases of influenza occur each year in the U.S.
Older adults and adults with chronic health conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease and diabetes are at higher risk of suffering complications from certain vaccine-preventable diseases like flu and pneumonia.
What vaccines do adults need? How often and when do they need them?
The vaccines a person needs are based on their age, medical conditions, occupation, vaccines they have received in the past, and other factors. Taking the CDC adult vaccine quiz (www.cdc.gov/vaccines/AdultQuiz) is one way to find out which vaccines you might need.
All persons 6 months of age and older are recommended to get the flu vaccine every year, with rare exception. Flu vaccination is especially important for those who are at high risk of serious flu-related complications, including adults 65 years and older, pregnant women and people with certain chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease. Also vaccination of caregivers of high risk persons is especially important to protect those who are at high risk. Example of caregivers include parents of children younger than 6 months (because they are too young to be vaccinated); health care workers, or anyone who works in a long-term care facility.
Getting vaccinated against the flu while pregnant during any trimester decreases the risk of flu and flu-related illnesses for the mother and developing baby throughout the pregnancy and can protect the baby for several months after birth. This protection is crucial since children younger than 6 months old are too young to receive their own flu vaccine, and are at high risk of severe illness from flu.
All adults should get a one-time dose of Tdap vaccine to protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) if they did not receive this vaccine as a preteen or teen. Whooping cough has been on the rise in recent years, and can be very serious, and even deadly for babies. All adults should receive a Td booster every 10 years to protect against tetanus and diphtheria. These two diseases are uncommon now because of vaccines, but they can be very serious.
Women are recommended to get a Tdap vaccine during the third trimester of every pregnancy to help protect themselves and their newborn babies against whooping cough. They should get Tdap during pregnancy even if they have had a prior Tdap shot.
Other vaccines you need as an adult are determined by factors such as age, lifestyle, job, health condition, and vaccines you’ve received in the past. Vaccines that may be recommended for you are vaccines that protect against shingles, pneumococcal disease, human papillomavirus (which can cause certain cancers), meningococcal disease, hepatitis A and B, chickenpox, and measles, mumps and rubella (MMR).
If you’re traveling abroad, you may need additional vaccines. Check the CDC travel website at www.cdc.gov/travel for more information on what you should do to prepare for travel based on where you are traveling.
Take CDC’s vaccine quiz (www.cdc.gov/vaccines/AdultQuiz) and discuss the results with your healthcare professional to make sure you are up-to-date on the vaccines recommended for you.
Are there vaccines specific to adults or are they boosters of vaccines adults have already received?
Some vaccines recommended for adults are very similar to childhood vaccines. For example, Tdap is a vaccine that is used for people over the age of 6 to provide protection against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. A vaccine called DTaP is given to children 6 and younger to provide protection against these same diseases.
Other vaccines protect against diseases that are more common in adults than in children. For instance, the shingles vaccine protects against shingles, a disease more common in adults; this vaccine is not recommended for children.
Adults should make sure to discuss vaccines with their doctor or other health care professionals. You also can get information on which vaccines you might need by taking a brief quiz at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults.
Why are we hearing about these vaccines now?
Many of the vaccines recommended for adults have been around for years.
We’re hearing more about the MMR vaccine because of measles outbreaks in the United States in previous years. Every year, unvaccinated travelers get measles while abroad and bring the disease into the United States. They can spread the disease to other people who are not protected against measles, which sometimes leads to outbreaks. This can occur in communities with unvaccinated people, including unvaccinated adults. For those travelling internationally, CDC recommends that all U.S. residents older than 6 months receive MMR vaccine, if needed, prior to departure.
One reason we’re hearing more about Tdap is the recent increase in whooping cough over the past few years. More than 18,000 cases were reported provisionally in the United States in 2015. We have learned that protection from the whooping cough vaccine given to children doesn’t last into adulthood.
Therefore, all adults are recommended to get one dose of Tdap if they did not receive it as a preteen or teen. CDC also recommends that women get Tdap during the third trimester of EACH pregnancy to give their babies short-term protection from whooping cough when the babies are too young to be immunized.
Getting vaccinated during pregnancy is important as this can provide protection to children less than three months old—those most likely to have severe illness from whooping cough. Whooping cough is most severe for babies; about half of babies younger than 1 year old who get the disease need treatment in the hospital. Up to 20 babies die each year because of whooping cough.
How can I find out which vaccines I need?
Ask your doctor or other health care professional which vaccines are right for you based on your age, job, lifestyle, health conditions and vaccines you received as a child. You also can visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults for more information and find a link to an adult vaccine quiz to see which vaccines are recommended for you.
What are potential risks from adult vaccines?
Side effects from vaccines are usually mild and temporary, such as soreness where the shot was given or a slight fever that goes away within a few days. Some people may have allergic reactions to certain vaccines, but serious and long-term effects are rare. However, the benefits of vaccination greatly outweigh the risks.
Anyone who gets a vaccine should be fully informed about both the benefits and the risks of vaccination. Any questions or concerns should be discussed with a healthcare professional.
Are adult vaccines safe?
Yes. The longstanding vaccine safety system in the U.S. ensures that vaccines are very safe.
Safety monitoring begins with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which ensures the safety, and effectiveness of vaccines for the United States. Before a vaccine is approved by the FDA for use by the public, the results of studies on safety and effectiveness of the vaccine are evaluated by highly trained FDA scientists and doctors. FDA also inspects the sites where vaccines are manufactured to make sure they follow strict manufacturing guidelines.
FDA and CDC continue to monitor vaccines after licensing to ensure continued safety of the vaccines in the U.S.
What are the ingredients in vaccines?
Vaccines contain ingredients called antigens (the part of the vaccine that helps your body build up protection against viruses), which cause the body to develop immunity.
Vaccines can also contain very small amounts of other ingredients which can vary by vaccine — these ingredients play necessary roles either in making the vaccine, or in ensuring that the vaccine is safe and effective, such as preventing vaccine contamination.
For more information: www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/additives.htm.
Are vaccines safe for people with certain health conditions or people who take prescription medications?
For people with certain chronic health conditions like diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, it is even more important to be up to date on vaccines because they are at increased risk for complications from certain vaccine-preventable diseases like flu and pneumonia. For instance, diabetes can make the immune system less able to fight infections. Additionally, flu illness can make it harder for someone with diabetes to control their blood sugars. These complications put people with diabetes at higher risk of flu-related complications, including illness that can result in hospitalization. That’s why it’s especially important for people with diabetes and certain other high risk factors to get the flu vaccine every year.
It is safe for people who are taking prescription medications to get vaccines. There are, however, other factors that may make it unsafe for some people to get certain vaccines, such as allergy to a vaccine or a certain vaccine ingredient. And live vaccines should not be given to people with weakened immune systems or to pregnant women. Talk to your health care professional to determine which vaccines are recommended for you.
How well do adult vaccines work?
The amount of protection from vaccination varies by vaccine and each person’s age and health. Vaccines generally work better when given to younger, healthier people, but immunization is the best defense against many of serious, and sometimes deadly, diseases. If you’ve been vaccinated and become ill with the disease after having developed immunity from the vaccine, your illness may be less severe than if you had not been vaccinated.
Will health insurance help pay for vaccines?
All Health Insurance Marketplace plans and most other private insurance plans must cover the following list of vaccines without charging a copayment or coinsurance when provided by an in-network provider:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Human Papillomavirus
- Measles, Mumps, Rubella
- Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis
Check with your health insurance provider for details. Make sure to ask them which providers you can go to for vaccinations.
Medicare Part B will pay for the following vaccines:
- Influenza (flu) vaccine
- Pneumococcal vaccines
- Hepatitis B vaccines for persons at increased risk of hepatitis
- Vaccines directly related to the treatment of an injury or direct exposure to a disease or condition, such as rabies and tetanus
Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage Plan Part C that offers Medicare prescription drug coverage may also have partial or full coverage for other vaccines, including:
- Shingles vaccine
- MMR vaccine
- Td and Tdap vaccines
- Hepatitis A
Most state Medicaid agencies cover at least some adult immunizations but may not offer all vaccines. Check with your state Medicaid agency for more information. Talk to your part C part D plans to find out what your out-of-pocket costs might be for immunizations.
Where can you get vaccines?
Vaccines may be available at private doctor offices, pharmacies, workplaces, community health clinics, health departments, or other community locations such as schools and religious centers. There is an online tool to help you find immunization providers near you: http://vaccine.healthmap.org.
You also can contact your state or local health department to learn more about where to get vaccines in your community. If your healthcare professional does not stock all the vaccines recommended for you, ask for a referral.
Why aren’t adults getting their recommended vaccines?
Many adults don’t realize they need vaccines to protect against diseases like whooping cough, hepatitis A and B, or pneumococcal disease. Even for those who do realize they need additional vaccines, there are challenges to staying up-to-date. As adults, we tend to worry about day-to-day things and are busy caring for our families, so we don’t often think about preventive measures that can help keep us healthy. That’s why it’s so critical for clinicians to strongly recommend the vaccines that patients need. It’s also important for clinicians to refer patients to providers in the area for vaccines they don’t stock.
Cost may be an issue for some adults. However, most private health insurance covers routinely recommended vaccines. Those eligible for Medicare and Medicaid also have coverage for certain vaccines.
What’s the bottom line? What should people know about adult vaccinations?
There are many things adults do to stay healthy. We know we need to eat the right foods and exercise. We need to get our recommended cancer screenings. Another important thing we need to do is get our recommended vaccines.
Adults who aren’t up-to-date on their vaccines are at greater risk of getting and spreading certain vaccine-preventable diseases. It is especially important for older adults and those with chronic health conditions such as heart disease, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and diabetes to get vaccinated because they are at increased risk for complications from diseases. CDC encourages all adults to talk to their healthcare professional about which vaccines are right for them – and get vaccinated.
I’ve heard more about shingles in the past few years. Since I had chickenpox, is the virus still in my body?
Anyone who has recovered from chickenpox still has the virus in their body. It stays in the body in an inactive (dormant) state, but can become active again later in life and cause shingles. One out of every three people will get shingles in their lifetime. You have a greater chance of getting shingles when you’re older, which is why the vaccine is recommended for everyone 60 years and older.
How many cases of measles have there been this year?
From January 2 to May 21, 2016, 19 people were reported to have measles in the United States. Since measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000 (i.e. endemic transmission was eliminated), the annual number of people reported to have measles ranged from a low of 37 people in 2004 to a high of 668 people in 2014. Last year’s measles outbreak was a perfect example of how quickly infectious diseases can spread when they reach groups of people who aren’t vaccinated.
Every year, unvaccinated travelers get measles while abroad and bring the disease into the United States. They can spread the disease to other people who are not protected against measles, which sometimes leads to outbreaks. This can occur in communities with unvaccinated people, including unvaccinated adults. All adults should talk to their healthcare professional to make sure they have received all the vaccines they need. For those travelling internationally, CDC recommends that all U.S. residents older than 6 months receive MMR vaccine, if needed, prior to departure.
Measles is very contagious and can cause serious illness. The best way for adults to protect themselves and their loved ones from measles is to make sure they are vaccinated.
Who is recommended to get pneumococcal vaccine?
There are two pneumococcal vaccines: PCV13 and PPSV23. CDC recommends both of these vaccines for adults 65 years of age or older. Adults aged 19 to 64 may also need one or both pneumococcal vaccines if they have certain medical conditions.
Like the pneumococcal vaccine, recommendations for other vaccines may also need to be tailored to each individual person’s situation. So adults should make sure to discuss vaccines with their doctor or other healthcare professional. You can get information on which vaccines you might need by taking the adult quiz at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/AdultQuiz.
Whooping Cough (Pertussis)
Why is it important for me to be vaccinated against whooping cough?
While whooping cough may not be as serious for adults as it is for babies, it is important that adults get vaccinated. It is especially important for adults who will have close contact with babies younger than 1 year old. Whooping cough is most serious for babies; about half of babies younger than 1 year old who get the disease need treatment in the hospital. Up to 20 babies die from whooping cough each year in the United States.
Whooping cough is not a disease of the past. While we no longer see the number of cases we did before whooping cough vaccines were available, it is a growing health concern. More than 18,000 cases of whooping cough were provisionally reported in 2015.
Why are cases of whooping cough increasing?
There are several reasons that help explain why we’re seeing more reported cases of whooping cough lately. Studies have shown that the whooping cough vaccines we use now do not provide long-lasting protection. This is known as waning immunity. We are also more aware of whooping cough, have better tests to diagnose it, and have better systems for reporting.
Why do women need to get Tdap during each pregnancy?
Whooping cough can be serious for anyone, but it is life-threatening in newborns and young babies. By getting vaccinated during pregnancy, women pass protection (antibodies) to their baby before birth. This allows babies to have some protection when they are too young to get their own whooping cough vaccine. About half of babies younger than 1 year old who get the disease need treatment in the hospital. Up to 20 babies die each year from whooping cough.
The amount of whooping cough antibodies a person has decreases over time. Women need a whooping cough vaccine during each pregnancy so each baby gets the greatest number of protective antibodies and best protection possible against this disease.
Do I really need a flu vaccine every year?
Yes. CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for just about everyone 6 months and older, even when the viruses the vaccine protects against have not changed from the previous season. The reason for this is that a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so an annual vaccination is needed to get the “optimal” or best protection against the flu. Adults should get a flu vaccine by the end of October if possible.
Where can I get more information?
- Talk with your doctor or other health care professional about which vaccines are right for you.
- Visit CDC’s website on adult vaccination: cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/index.html
- Take the CDC quiz to find out which vaccines are recommended for you: cdc.gov/vaccines/AdultQuiz
- Use the Healthmap Vaccine Finder to find vaccines: http://vaccine.healthmap.org/
- For more information on adult vaccines and the Affordable Care Act, visit: healthcare.gov/what-are-my-preventive-care-benefits/
There are many things we want to pass on to our loved ones – illness is not one of them
You want to pass on certain things like family traditions, a grandmother’s quilt or dad’s love of books – but no one wants to pass on a serious illness. Take charge of your health and help protect those around you by asking about vaccines at your next doctor’s visit.
Vaccinating our children is commonplace in the United States. But many adults don’t know which vaccines they need, and even fewer are fully vaccinated. For example, in 2014, only 28 percent of adults ages 60 and older had received a shingles vaccine and only 20 percent of adults older than 19 had received a Tdap vaccine.
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. Babies, 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.
The good news is that getting vaccinated is easier than you think. Adults can get vaccinated at doctors’ offices, pharmacies, workplaces, health clinics and health departments. 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.
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)
Traveling overseas? There may be additional vaccines you need depending on the location. Find out at www.cdc.gov/travel
Not sure what vaccines you may need? The CDC offers a short quiz at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adultquiz to help you find out which vaccines you might need. You can take the results of your quiz to your provider to discuss which vaccines are right for you.
All adults should get an annual flu vaccine to protect against seasonal flu and a Td vaccine every 10 years to protect against tetanus and diphtheria. You may also need other vaccines based on your age, health conditions, 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.
For more information about adult vaccines: www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults.
Check the easy-to-read adult immunization schedule for all recommended vaccines: www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/easy-to-read/adult.html
Web Links & Resources
CDC: Adult Vaccination Homepage for Adults