Getting recommended vaccinations is one of the best ways to protect yourself and other people in your community from preventable illness.
Vaccinations lower your chances of contracting potentially life threatening diseases, while also helping to stop the spread of those diseases to other people.
Read on to learn more about the importance of vaccinations at all stages of life and detailed information about which vaccines you need at every age.
Each year in the United States,
Those preventable infections may cause lifelong disabilities or other chronic health challenges. In some cases, they’re fatal.
Even if you don’t develop serious symptoms from an infectious disease, you may still pass it on to other vulnerable community members, including infants who are too young to get vaccinated.
Staying up to date on your vaccination schedule reduces your chances of contracting preventable illnesses. In turn, this can help you enjoy a longer and healthier life.
It also helps prevent the spread of infectious diseases to people around you. This protection is known as “herd immunity.”
The protective effects of vaccines can wear off with time, which is why it’s important to get vaccinated at multiple points throughout adulthood — even if you received vaccines as a child.
Here, you’ll find a comprehensive list of vaccines for adults, organized by age. Find your age range below to see which vaccinations are recommended for you.
For adults under age 50, the
- Seasonal influenza vaccine: 1 dose per year. Receiving the flu shot every year is the best way to lower your chances of getting the flu and related complications. In general, the inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV), recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV), and live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) are all considered safe for adults under 50.
- Tdap and Td vaccines: 1 dose of Tdap at some point in adulthood, followed by 1 dose of Tdap or Td every 10 years. The Tdap vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). The Td vaccine reduces the risk of only tetanus and diphtheria. Tdap is also recommended for those who are pregnant, even if they’ve received a dose of Tdap or Td within the past 10 years.
If you were born in 1980 or later, your doctor might also recommend the varicella vaccine. It protects against chickenpox, in people who don’t already have immunity to the disease.
Your doctor might also advise you to get one or more of the following vaccines if you haven’t received them previously:
- MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps, and rubella
- HPV vaccine, which protects against human papillomavirus
If you have certain health conditions or other risk factors for particular infections, your doctor may also recommend the herpes zoster vaccine, pneumococcal vaccine, or other vaccinations.
Some health conditions and medications may change your doctor’s recommendations about which vaccines are right for you.
If you live with a health condition or take a medication that affects your immune system, it’s especially important to stay up to date on the vaccinations that protect you from preventable illnesses.
Your travel plans may also affect your doctor’s vaccine recommendations.
- Seasonal influenza vaccine: 1 dose per year. Getting an annual “flu shot” will help lower your risk of developing the flu and potentially life threatening complications, such as pneumonia. Adults ages 50 and over are advised to receive the inactivated influenza vaccine (IAV) or recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV) only, not the live vaccine.
- Tdap and Td vaccines: 1 dose of Tdap at some point in adulthood, followed by 1 dose of Tdap or Td every 10 years. The Tdap vaccine provides protection against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough), while the Td vaccine only protects against tetanus and diphtheria.
- Herpes zoster vaccine: 2 doses of the recombinant vaccine or 1 dose of the live vaccine. This vaccine lowers your chances of getting shingles. The preferred vaccination approach involves 2 doses of the recombinant zoster vaccine (RZV, Shingrix) over a period of 2 to 6 months, rather than 1 dose of the older live zoster vaccine (ZVL, Zostavax).
If you haven’t already been vaccinated against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), your doctor may also encourage you to get the MMR vaccine.
In some cases, your health history, travel plans, or other lifestyle factors may also lead your doctor to recommend the pneumococcal vaccine or other vaccinations as well.
If you have a health condition or take a medication that affects your immune system, your doctor may have different recommendations about which vaccines are best for you. It’s vital to stay up to date on the vaccinations you need if your immune system is compromised.
- Seasonal influenza vaccine. An annual flu shot lowers your risk of developing the flu, which may cause life threatening complications, particularly in older adults. Older adults can receive the
high-dose flu vaccine, which may offer a higher level of protection against the flu compared to other vaccines. They may also receive the standard inactivated influenza vaccine (IAV) or recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV). The live vaccine isn’t recommended.
- Tdap and Td vaccines: 1 dose of Tdap at some point in adulthood, followed by 1 dose of Tdap or Td every 10 years. The Tdap vaccine lowers your chances of getting tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough), while the Td vaccine only reduces your risk of tetanus and diphtheria.
- Herpes zoster vaccine: 2 doses of the recombinant vaccine or 1 dose of the live vaccine. This vaccine provides protection against shingles. The preferred vaccination schedule involves 2 doses of the recombinant zoster vaccine (RZV, Shingrix) over 2 to 6 months, rather than 1 dose of the older live zoster vaccine (ZVL, Zostavax).
- Pneumococcal vaccine: 1 dose. This vaccine provides protection against pneumococcal infections, including pneumonia. Most adults age 65 and older are advised to receive the pneumococcal polysaccharide (PPSV23) vaccine, rather than the pneumococcal conjugate (PCV13) vaccine.
Based on your health history, travel plans, and other lifestyle factors, your doctor might recommend other vaccinations, too.
Certain health conditions and medications can affect the immune system. Vaccine recommendations may vary for people whose immune systems are compromised. To protect against preventable illness, it’s important for older adults to stay up to date on any recommended vaccines.
For most people, the risk of serious side effects from vaccination is very low.
Potential side effects from vaccinations include:
- pain, tenderness, swelling, and redness at the injection site
- sore joints or body aches
- low fever
Very rarely, vaccines may trigger a serious allergic reaction or other serious side effects.
If you’ve experienced allergic reactions to vaccines in the past, you have certain health conditions, or you’re pregnant, your doctor may advise you not to get certain vaccines.
If you’re taking medications that affect your immune system, your doctor may advise you to pause or adjust your medication regimen before getting certain vaccines.
Talk to your doctor to learn which vaccines are likely safe for you.
To help protect yourself, your loved ones, and your broader community from preventable illness, it’s important to stay up to date on your recommended vaccinations.
To learn which vaccinations you should get, talk to your doctor. Your age, health history, and lifestyle will help them determine which vaccinations they recommend for you.
You should also let your doctor know if you’re planning to travel — and ask them if there are any vaccines that you should get beforehand. Certain infectious illnesses are more common in some parts of the world than in others.