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Vaccine Schedule for Adults

Vaccines aren’t just for kids. Grown-ups need them to protect against diseases that become more common in adulthood. They can also protect people who didn't get the vaccines -- or the illnesses they prevent -- in childhood.

Experts recommend some common vaccines for most adults, but your personal needs may be different. If you're traveling to other countries, your doctor may suggest extra shots. If you're pregnant or have some types of 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.

Health Insurance Center

So talk to your doctor -- it's the best way to learn about the shots you need.

Flu Vaccine

How you get it: By injection or nasal spray.

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

Who should get it: All adults should get the vaccine in some form. The standard shot is made with pieces of flu viruses. The nasal spray version, made with weakened live viruses, is 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 that use smaller needles that don't pierce as deeply. People who are at greater risk from the flu, like those over 65, can get high-dose injections.

Pneumococcal Vaccine

How you get it: By injection.

How often and when: There are two pneumococcal vaccines. If you’re a healthy adult over 65, you’ll need both. The timing and sequence of them depends on what vaccine you may have had before. Doctors recommend another dose 5 years after the first for people with long-lasting kidney failure or other conditions that weaken the immune system. People who get their first pneumococcal shot before age 65 get a second dose after 65.

Who should get it: All adults 65 and older and those 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 defenses against infection, including lymphoma or leukemia, multiple myeloma, 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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