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Your Guide to Adult Vaccination

Although you might have been vaccinated when you were younger, the viruses and bacteria you were immunized against can change, lowering your resistance. Also, the protection from some vaccines can wear off over time. You may also have an increased risk for vaccine-preventable diseases because of your age, health condition, job, travel, or hobbies. In general, adults should receive: ■■ An annual flu shot for all ages, including pregnant women ■■ The Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccine, and a booster every 10 years ■■ Two doses of the chickenpox vaccine ■■ One or two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine ■■ Three doses of the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine for men and women ages 19 to 26 ■■ The zoster (shingles) vaccine for those 50 and older. Some people may benefit from vaccines for pneumonia, meningococcal disease, and hepatitis A and B. Talk with your healthcare provider to determine which vaccines are right for you. INFORMATION SERIES FOR ADULTS 3 Important Reasons For Adults to Get Vaccinated You may not realize that you need vaccines throughout your adult life. Vaccines are still important to your health and here are just three reasons why. 1. You may be at risk for serious diseases that are still common in the U.S. Each year thousands of adults in the United States suffer serious health problems from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines — some people are hospitalized, and some even die. Even if you were fully vaccinated as a child, the protection from some vaccines you received can wear off over time and you may also be at risk for other diseases due to your job, lifestyle, travel, or health conditions. 2. You can protect your health and the health of those around you by getting the recommended vaccines. Vaccines reduce your chance of getting sick. Vaccines work with your body’s natural defense to reduce the chances of getting certain diseases as well as suffering complications from these diseases. Vaccines reduce your chance of spreading certain diseases. There are many things you want to pass on to your loved ones; a vaccine preventable disease is not one of them. Infants, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems (like those undergoing cancer treatment) are especially vulnerable to vaccine preventable diseases. 3. You can’t afford to risk getting sick. Even healthy people can get sick enough to miss work or school. If you’re sick, you may not be able to take care of your family and other obligations. Being vaccinated is your best protection against many serious diseases. Getting vaccinated as an adult is easier than you think. • Adults can get vaccines at doctors’ offices, pharmacies, workplaces, community health clinics, and health departments. To find a vaccine provider near you, go to vaccine.healthmap.org. • Most health insurance plans cover the cost of recommended vaccines. Check with your insurance provider for details and for a list of vaccine providers. Since 2010, all private health plans are required to cover all immunizations recommended on the Immunization Schedule for adults. As long as you receive your vaccines from an in-network provider you should not be asked for a copay. If you do not have health insurance, visit www.healthcare.gov to learn more about health coverage options. Vaccines are safe. • Vaccines are tested and monitored. Vaccines are tested before being licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and FDA continue to monitor vaccines after they are licensed. • Vaccine side effects are usually mild and temporary. The most common side effects include soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site. Severe side effects are very rare. • Vaccines are one of the safest ways to protect your health. Most people, even those with health conditions or taking prescription drugs, should be vaccinated. However, if you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system, talk with your healthcare professional before being vaccinated, as some vaccines may not be recommended for you. What vaccines do you need? All adults should get: • Flu vaccine every year to protect against seasonal flu • Td/Tdap to protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) Based on your age, health conditions, vaccines you received as a child, and other factors, you may need additional vaccines such as: • Chickenpox • Hepatitis A • Hepatitis B • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) • MMR • Meningococcal • Pneumococcal • Shingles Traveling overseas? There may be additional vaccines you need. Find out at: www.cdc.gov/travel DON’T WAIT. VACCINATE! 3 Important Reasons for Adults to Get Vaccinated Download/print this PDF When most of us think of vaccinations, we think of the shots we received as children. But it’s important for adults to be vaccinated, too, to avoid getting and spreading diseases. HOW VACCINES WORK Vaccines help your body create immunity, or resistance, to certain diseases by imitating an infection. This infection does not cause illness, but triggers your immune system to create antibodies and lymphocytes to fight it. Sometimes you might have minor symptoms, such as a fever, after getting a vaccine. These mild symptoms are normal, and should be expected as your body builds up immunity. When scientists design a vaccine, they use information about the germs (viruses or bacteria) the vaccine will prevent, such as how it infects cells and how your immune systems responds to it. They also consider in what parts of the world it will be used, because the strain of the virus and conditions such as temperature and risk of exposure are also important. There are several different kinds of vaccines. Some types require more than one dose to be most effective. With these vaccines, the first dose doesn’t provide as much immunity as possible. To build a more complete immunity, more than one dose is needed. With some vaccines, immunity can wear off over time. When that happens, a “booster” dose is needed to build immunity levels back up. The flu vaccine is an example of a shot that is needed annually. The virus that causes the flu may be different from year to year, and the flu vaccine is designed each year to prevent the specific strain that experts predict will be circulating.


Your Guide to Adult Vaccination
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