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Vaccinations: Not Just For Kids

Published on Jul 19, 2018

Vaccines have helped humankind nearly wipe out some of the most terrible, debilitating diseases we have encountered, including polio, small pox and pertussis (whooping cough). However, it is estimated that more than 40,000 adults in the U.S. still die each year from diseases that can be prevented by a vaccine. Just because you were vaccinated against something years ago doesn’t necessarily mean you are still protected today.

The vaccines you may need as an adult depend on everything from your age and lifestyle to high-risk medical conditions, travel plans, and which shots you’ve had (or not) in the past. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that throughout your adult life, you need immunizations to get and maintain protection against:

  • Seasonal Influenza (flu): for all adults.
  • Tetanus, Pertussis and Diphtheria: for all adults who have not previously received the Tdap vaccine.
  • Shingles: or adults 60 years and older.
  • Pneumococcal diseases: for adults 65 years and older and adults with specific health conditions.
  • Hepatitis B: for adults who have diabetes or are at risk for hepatitis B.

Other vaccinations you may need include those that protect against human papillomavirus (which can cause certain cancers), hepatitis A, meningococcal disease, chickenpox (varicella), and measles, mumps and rubella. Speak with your doctor about which vaccines are recommended for you. And remember, if your immunizations are not up to date, you may be also putting your family at risk. Staying on top of your vaccines and boosters helps you stay healthier and slows the spread of disease to those around you.

Dipali Davé, MD, MHA, is a physician and the Assistant Editor and Medical Researcher for Pfizer’s Get Healthy Stay Healthy website.

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12]


  • 1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adult Vaccination Coverage — United States, 2010. Accessed December 28, 2012.
  • 2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. 11th ed. Washington D.C. Public Health Foundation, 2009.
  • 3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Flu Symptoms & Severity. Accessed January 2, 2013.
  • 4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended Adult Immunization Schedule—United States – 2012. Accessed January 9, 2013.
  • 5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seasonal Flu Vaccine Safety and Pregnant Women. Accessed January 9, 2013.
  • 6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccination. Accessed January 2, 2013.
  • 7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccine Safety. Accessed January 9, 2013.
  • 8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What Adults with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Should Know About 2009 H1N1 Flu (Formerly Called Swine Flu). Accessed December 28, 2012.
  • 9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What You Need To Know About Asthma and Vaccines. Accessed January 9, 2013.
  • 10. Immunization of health-care workers: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Hospital Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC). MMWR Recomm Rep. 1997;46(RR-18):1-42.
  • 11. National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. Top Reasons to get Vaccinated. Accessed January 2, 2013.
  • 12. National Provider Identifier. NPI Reference Guide on Vaccines and Vaccine Safety. Accessed January 9, 2013.
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