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Immunizations - Adult Immunizations

Who should get it?

  • Adults who have a damaged or missing spleen or who have certain immune system problems need two initial doses and then a booster dose every 5 years.
  • Adults who have a higher risk than others for getting and having severe problems from meningitis need one shot. This includes adults who will travel or live in areas of the world where the disease is common.

For adults up to age 55, the meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV) is usually given. Adults older than age 55 are immunized with the meningococcal polysaccharide (MPSV4) vaccine, called Menomune. Some people may need booster shots.

Polio (IPV)(What is a PDF document?)

This shot protects against polio.

Who should get it?

  • Adults whose travel or job puts them at increased risk for exposure to polio need three doses of this shot.
  • Adults who never had the full series of oral polio vaccine (OPV) or inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) and who have an increased risk of being exposed to polio need the shots they missed.

Routine polio immunization is not recommended for adults (ages 18 and older) who live in the United States.

Consult your doctor or public health department if you missed an immunization or to find out whether you need a specific immunization. For more information about each vaccine, see the topic Vaccine Information Statements.

Immunizations and pregnancy

Before you become pregnant, discuss your immunization history with your doctor. Your immunity protects both you and your baby. Some vaccines (such as the ones for flu and Tdap) can be given during pregnancy. Some vaccines need to be given before or soon after pregnancy.

If you are pregnant, your children should still get their immunizations on schedule. You do not need to speed up or delay your other children's immunizations.

Immunization safety

You may worry that immunizations are dangerous if they are given when you have a cold or other minor illness. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about the timing of shots. But keep in mind that shots can usually still be given during a mild illness, while medicines are being taken, and in other situations where you may not be in perfect health. There are very few reasons for which doctors suggest that a person postpone or not get an immunization.

For more information about vaccine safety studies and vaccine side effects, see the topic Immunization Safety.


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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