• There are new recommendations for influenza (flu), human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis A, hepatitis B, meningococcal B, and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines.
  • Vaccines can prevent many potentially deadly diseases, such as cervical and liver cancers.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), there’s a broad range of potentially life threatening diseases that can be prevented by receiving the appropriate vaccine.

Vaccines aren’t just for kids. Immunity you developed from childhood vaccinations can fade, and there are different diseases you may be at risk for. These diseases can even be deadly for many adults.

“The CDC has estimated that the current flu season in the U.S. has resulted in 19 to 26 million illnesses and approximately 10 to 25,000 deaths so far,” said Ramzi Yacoub, PharmD, and chief pharmacy officer at Single Care.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recently released its 2020 recommended immunization schedule for adults. There are important changes to the administration of the flu, HPV, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, meningococcal B, and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines.

The new schedule features revised content, format, and graphics that make it easy to follow. While intended to guide your healthcare provider, the schedule contains a wealth of information important for everybody to know. You can refer to the revised schedule to find out which vaccines, how many doses, and at what ages adults should get them.

The ACIP advises that adults receive the following vaccinations:

  • flu, one dose annually
  • tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap), one dose as an adult and then a booster every 10 years
  • varicella (chickenpox), two doses if born in 1980 or later
  • measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), one or two doses if born in 1957 or later
  • herpes zoster (shingles), two doses for adults 50 years and older (recombinant vaccine) or one dose for adults 60 years and older (live vaccine)
  • HPV, two or three doses depending on your age when you received your first shot

The CDC recommends an annual influenza vaccination for everyone ages 6 months and older. Also, for the 2019–2020 season, all flu vaccines will be cell grown, rather than in eggs, addressing the needs of people allergic to eggs.

“Look at the uproar over the coronavirus, a hundred odd deaths in the world and people are panicking; meanwhile, we have thousands of deaths in this country from flu illnesses, and there are still patients I have to try to convince to take a flu vaccine,” Dr. Michael Zuckman, internist with White Plains Hospital Physician Associates in Armonk, New York, told Healthline.

However, many people are still reluctant to get their yearly shot.

Zuckman explained that there could be many reasons why. He pointed out a growing distrust with government or pharmaceutical companies as one cause for increasing vaccine hesitancy. He also emphasized social media’s role in spreading disinformation, and people not knowing how to differentiate between fact and fiction.

“I’m constantly having to reinforce to people who come into my practice to get these vaccinations. People ask me, ‘Why do I need this?’ They don’t even realize how many thousands of people die every year in the United States from flu-related illnesses,” Zuckman said.

According to Yacoub, the current flu vaccine protects against most strains, and if you do manage to catch it, symptoms will be less severe and the illness shorter.

“Because the strain of the flu can mutate year over year and the immunoprotection from vaccines declines over time, it is important that people get the flu shot every year,” he said.

According to the CDC, there’s a broad range of potentially life threatening diseases that can be prevented by receiving the appropriate vaccine, including the following:

  • Pneumococcal pneumonia strikes roughly 320,000 people every year, causing about 5,000 deaths and thousands of hospitalizations. The most severely affected are older adults.
  • Up to 1.4 million people have chronic hepatitis B, which can cause complications like liver cancer.
  • Over 27,000 cancers in men and women are caused by HPV each year, and about 4,000 women die each year from cervical cancer.

“The HPV vaccine that we have in the United States is called Gardasil 9; it targets a number of the different types of HPV,” Zuckman said. “It’s felt that most cervical cancers are due to HPV. It’s one of the few strong associations that we have showing a cancer caused by a microorganism. It’s not only cervical cancer, the vaccine is also used to prevent anal cancer, some cases of oral cancer, and some cases of penile cancer.”

Vaccines are especially important for international travel. The CDC divides travel vaccines into three categories: routine, required, and recommended.

According to the CDC:

  • Routine vaccines are recommended for everyone in the United States, based on age, health condition, and other risk factors. Some are childhood vaccines, but some are recommended for adults. Others, like the flu vaccine, are recommended every year, or every 10 years, like the tetanus booster.
  • A required vaccine is one you must have to enter a country, based on that country’s regulations. Typically, yellow fever is the only vaccine required by certain countries.
  • Recommended vaccines are those travelers get to protect their health, but aren’t required for entry by the country they’re visiting. They protect people from travel-related diseases. Typhoid, for example, is a disease spread by contaminated food and water, and not usually found in the United States.

Vaccination isn’t just a concern for children, and new adult vaccination guidelines have been released by the ACIP.

Vaccines can prevent many potentially deadly diseases, such as cervical and liver cancers. However many people are put off by vaccine myths, especially on social media.

Experts say everyone should receive the recommended vaccinations according to established schedules and always get their annual flu shot.