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Vaccine Schedule for Adults

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.

Health Insurance Center

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: A single vaccination is recommended for healthy adults. But 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

Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (Td, Tdap) Vaccine

How it is given: As a single injection that offers protection against all three diseases.

How often/when to get it: One-time Tdap vaccination followed by Td booster every 10 years.

Who should get it? Adults up to age 64 who have not previously had a Tdap vaccination, and adults 65 and older who have not previously received Tdap and have or anticipate having close contact with a baby less than 12 months of age. All adults should receive subsequent Td boosters. Also, pregnant women are advised to get the Tdap vaccine, preferably between 27 and 36 weeks' gestation, with each pregnancy.

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