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Staying up to date on vaccinations is important for people of all ages, including adults. Vaccines help prevent the spread of many infectious diseases. For example, there are vaccines that help protect against the flu, shingles, tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) — to name just a few conditions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led some people to question if they need to stay up to date on routine vaccinations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers routine vaccinations to be essential healthcare for all adults, including pregnant people. The CDC recommends that vaccinations not be postponed due to the pandemic.

Read on to learn the facts about adult vaccines. You can also discover more about how you can promote vaccine awareness in your community with the #AdultVaccines hashtag.

Every year in the United States, tens of thousands of people get sick with diseases that could be prevented by vaccines, reports the CDC.

Those diseases can cause painful symptoms, disability, and even death in some cases.

Getting vaccinated lowers your risk of falling ill with infectious diseases. It also reduces your chances of passing infectious diseases to other people.

Before a new vaccine is approved to be used in the United States, it’s tested in multiple studies. Researchers and regulators carefully assess the vaccine to make sure it’s safe and effective.

After a vaccine has been approved, the CDC continues to monitor its use for safety concerns.

Most side effects from vaccines are mild. They usually go away within a couple of days.

Serious side effects from vaccines are rare.

Some vaccines provide protection for many years.

Other vaccines need to be administered every year to work well.

That’s why it’s so important to follow your doctor’s recommended vaccination schedule.

Even if you received a particular vaccine in childhood, you may need to get additional doses of that vaccine as an adult. Talk to your doctor to learn which vaccines you should get and when.

If you’re planning to get pregnant in the near future, talk to your doctor to learn which vaccines you should get before and during your pregnancy.

If you’re due for a dose of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, the CDC recommends getting it at least 1 month before you become pregnant.

Getting the MMR vaccine before pregnancy will lower your chances of having a baby with congenital rubella syndrome. This condition can cause serious birth defects.

The CDC also recommends getting the flu and Tdap vaccines during pregnancy. This will help protect your baby from the flu and whooping cough after birth.

If you’re planning to travel outside of the United States, ask your doctor if there are any vaccines that you should get before your trip.

Some infectious illnesses that aren’t common in the United States are more widespread in other countries. In some cases, vaccines are available to help protect against those diseases.

Depending on your destination, your doctor might encourage you to get vaccinated against yellow fever, polio, or other infectious illnesses.

Even mild cases of the flu can cause uncomfortable symptoms, such as fatigue, fever, and body aches. In more severe cases, the flu can cause serious and even life threatening complications.

Getting the flu vaccine every year lowers your risk of developing the flu. It also reduces your chances of passing the flu to other people, including young children and older adults.

Pneumococcal pneumonia is a potentially life threatening chest infection that causes an estimated 150,000 hospitalizations per year in the United States.

To help lower your chances of getting pneumococcal pneumonia and other pneumococcal diseases, your doctor may encourage you to get the PPSV23 vaccine, PCV13 vaccine, or both.

The CDC recommends pneumococcal vaccination to:

  • people who are 65 years of age or older
  • adults who smoke, even if they’re younger than 65 years old
  • adults who have certain health conditions that raise the risk of pneumonia, even if they’re younger than 65 years old

Shingles is an infection that causes painful blisters and skin rash. It can lead to serious complications, including burning nerve pain that persists after the infection has cleared.

To help prevent shingles, the Shingrix vaccine is recommended to adults age 50 years and older.

Your doctor may advise you to get the Shingrix vaccine, even if you’ve already received the older Zostavax vaccine for shingles.

Measles used to kill hundreds of Americans each year, while making millions more sick.

This changed when the MMR vaccine became widely used.

The number of people who developed measles dropped so much with vaccination that the disease was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000.

But now measles appears to be making a comeback, warns the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

Multiple outbreaks of measles have been reported across the country in recent years.

Most of the people who’ve become sick with measles haven’t been vaccinated against it.

Adult vaccination is an essential cornerstone of public health that saves thousands of lives every year in the United States.

Consider using your voice to let other members of your community know why adult vaccines are so important.

You can learn what others are saying about vaccines and join the conversation online by searching for the #AdultVaccines hashtag on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. You can also add this hashtag to your own social media posts to:

  • share awareness-raising messages about vaccines
  • counter misinformation and promote the facts about vaccines
  • remind people of the importance of staying up to date on vaccinations

Vaccination helps to keep children and adults safe by limiting the spread of infectious diseases.

Getting your recommended vaccinations lowers your chances of becoming sick with infectious diseases, while also reducing your chances of passing infectious illnesses on to other people.

Talk to your doctor to learn which vaccines you should receive and when, and help share evidence-based information about vaccines with members of your community.