Keeping up-to-date with your immunizations can be difficult. From when you had your last tetanus booster to whether you should get the flu vaccine, it’s easy to lose track of which vaccinations you’ve had and which you need. (I wonder if someone will build an app for that!) 😉
It is important that you keep tabs on your immunization history. It is far better to do it now than wait until after you step on that rusty nail or find yourself with adult chickenpox. Ugh! The following is a rundown of the vaccinations recommended in the CDC’s Adult Immunization Schedule.
Adult Vaccinations You Need
- Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Td/Tdap): a booster is needed every 10 years. A pregnant woman who had a shot 10 or more years earlier should get a booster during the second or third trimester.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV): three-dose series given to females age 11-26 who haven’t already received the vaccination.
- Varicella (chickenpox): two-dose series given to adults with no evidence of immunity to the chickenpox virus. Pregnant women should not get this vaccine.
- Zoster (shingles): one-dose vaccine for adults 60 and older. Pregnant women should not get this vaccine. (Editorial comment – can you imagine being pregnant at 60+?!?!?!)
- Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR): one or more doses given to adults with no evidence of immunity. Pregnant women should not get this vaccine.
- Influenza (flu): yearly vaccination given to adults 50 and older. This is also recommended for younger adults with certain medical, occupational, and other indications including chronic heart or lung disease, diabetes, health care workers, or residents of nursing homes. The vaccine is available as a flu shot and nasal spray flu vaccine. The flu season can range from October to May, and the CDC recommends vaccination throughout the flu season.
- Pneumococcal: given to adults 65 and older and adults with certain medical, lifestyle, or other indications including cigarette smokers and residents of nursing homes. A one-time booster is given five years later.
- Hepatitis A: two-dose series given to adults with certain medical, occupational, lifestyle, or other indications including chronic liver disease, illegal drug use, and health care workers.
- Hepatitis B: three-dose series given to adults with certain medical, occupational, lifestyle, or other indications including chronic liver disease, sexually active adults who are not in a monogamous relationship, injection drug use, and health care workers.
- Meningococcal: one or more doses given to adults with certain medical or other indications; commonly given to college students living in dormitories or military recruits.
Travelers to some parts of the world or people with professions that bring them into contact with animals might need other vaccines. Be sure to ask your health care provider about which immunizations you need.
If you don’t know your vaccination history, make a list of the above vaccines and at your next doctor visit, get the dates of your last injections. Discuss with your physician if you should be vaccinated for some of these illnesses if you haven’t yet. Be proactive – it makes great medical sense to prevent illness from occurring when you can.