Immunization Awareness Month: Make sure you’re up to date

Immunization Awareness MonthInformation courtesy of the National Public Health Information Coalition

Did you know that vaccines aren’t just for children? You need immunizations throughout your life to help you stay healthy because immunity from childhood diseases may wear off over time, and you may also be at risk for other vaccine-preventable diseases.

Visit for more information and to see which vaccines are recommended for you.

Why do adults need vaccines?

Even if you were vaccinated at a younger age, the immunity from those vaccines can wear off, or the virus or bacteria that the vaccine protects against changes, so your resistance is not as strong. And as adults get older, they may also be at risk for vaccine-preventable diseases due to their job, hobbies, travel, or chronic health condition.

All adults need immunizations to help them prevent getting and spreading serious diseases that could result in poor health, missed school or work, medical bills, and not being able to care for family.

Are vaccine-preventable diseases really a threat for adults?

Yes. Any of the diseases that adult vaccines protect against can be serious. Every year, thousands of adults in the U.S. still suffer serious health problems, are hospitalized, and even die from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines. For example, it is estimated that each year about 40,000 Americans get invasive pneumococcal disease each year, resulting in 4,000 deaths.

People with chronic health conditions such as lung disease (asthma or COPD), heart disease, and diabetes are at higher risk of complications from pneumococcal bacteria, influenza and other vaccine-preventable diseases.

What vaccines do adults need? How often and when do they need them?

All adults need a flu vaccine every year. The flu vaccine is also recommended for pregnant women to decrease the risk of flu and flu-related severe illnesses in children less than 6 months old.

All adults need a tetanus vaccine every 10 years to protect against harmful bacteria in the environment that can enter through broken skin.

All adults should get a one-time dose of Tdap vaccine to protect against tetanus and diphtheria plus whooping cough. Whooping cough epidemics have increased in the US in the past few years. Women are recommended to get a Tdap vaccine during every pregnancy to protect themselves and their newborn babies. Other vaccines you need as an adult are determined by factors such as age, lifestyle, job, health condition, and previous vaccination. They may include those that protect against shingles, pneumococcal disease, human papillomavirus (which can cause certain cancers), meningococcal disease, hepatitis A and B, chickenpox (varicella), and measles, mumps and rubella. Adults traveling outside the United States may need additional vaccines.

Ask your doctor which vaccines are recommended for you.