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Immunization Schedule, Adults

Adults Immunization Schedule Introduction

At least 45,000 adults in the United States die of complications of influenza, pneumococcal infections, and hepatitis B each year. These diseases, and others that can be prevented by vaccines, cost society more than $10 billion each year. Vaccines to prevent these diseases are very effective, but underused.

Some adults incorrectly assume that the vaccines they received as children will protect them for the rest of their lives. This is true for certain diseases, such as polio. However, some adults were never vaccinated as children. New vaccines such as the chickenpox vaccination were not available when many adults were children. And vaccinations for certain diseases must be repeated periodically to maintain immunity. In addition, certain vaccines are given to adults but not children. This is because with aging, we become more susceptible to serious diseases caused by common infections (such as flu or pneumonia).

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Department of Health and Human Services through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made the following recommendations about annual vaccines needed by all adults:

  • Vaccines needed for all adults

  • Vaccines needed for those aged 50 years and older: influenza vaccine (for the flu)

  • Vaccines needed for those aged 65 years and older: Pneumococcal vaccine

  • Vaccines needed for all health-care workers: influenza vaccine (for the flu)
  • Annual updates are made each year by the CDC.

    • A complete Adult Immunization Schedule is available from the CDC's National Immunization Program.

    • Recommended immunizations for children are also updated annually by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

    • A Quick Reference Vaccines Chart summarizes the requirements for children and adults and includes information about additional protection for diseases such as Lyme disease, anthrax, and polio.

  • Side effects: A reaction to a vaccine such as trouble breathing or a seizure is a medical emergency. Call 911 immediately. For more minor side effects such as a fever or soreness at the site of the shot, call your doctor. After any reaction, tell your doctor what happened, the date and time it happened, and when the vaccination was given. You may need to avoid similar vaccinations in the future.
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