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Vaccines Health Center

Vaccine Schedule for Adults

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You still need vaccinations when you become an adult. They're important for lifelong good health, just like childhood immunizations. While some vaccinations are prescribed only for adults, others are for grown-ups who didn't get the vaccines -- or the illnesses they help protect against -- in childhood.

This vaccine schedule offers basic information about the most common vaccines for adults. Your personal needs may be different. If you're traveling to developing countries, your doctor may recommend other shots. If you're pregnant or have certain health problems or allergies, not all of these vaccinations may be right for you.

Did You Know?

Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will cover preventive care services, including checkups, vaccinations and screening tests, at no cost to you. Learn more.

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Your doctor is the best source of information about the vaccinations you need.

Flu Vaccine

How it’s given: By injection or nasal spray.

How often/when to get it: Once a year, typically starting in September through the end of the flu season. The earlier you get it, the better your protection throughout the season.

Who should get it: All adults should get the vaccine in some form. The nasal spray version is approved for adults up to age 49 who are in good health and not pregnant. There are some other options, such as egg-free shots for those with severe egg allergies, and shots using smaller needles that don't pierce as deeply, and high-dose injections for people who are more vulnerable, like those over age 65.

Pneumococcal Vaccine

How it is given: By injection.

How often/when to get it: There are two pneumococcal vaccines. If you are a healthy adult over age 65, it's now recommended you receive both vaccines. The timing and sequence of the vaccines will vary depending on what vaccine you may have previously had. Doctors recommend another dose 5 years later for people with chronic kidney failure or other conditions that lower their ability to fight infection. They also say that people who get their first dose before age 65 get a second dose after 65.

Who should get it: All adults 65 and older; adults 64 and younger who:

  • Have long-term health problems such as heart disease, lung disease, sickle cell disease, diabetes, alcoholism, cirrhosis, leaks of cerebrospinal fluid, or a cochlear implant
  • Have a disease that lowers the body’s resistance to infection, including lymphoma or leukemia, kidney failure, HIV, or AIDS
  • Take medication or treatment that lowers resistance to infection, including steroids, some cancer drugs, and radiation therapy
  • Smoke or have asthma
  • Live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
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