Skip to Content

The Importance Of Immunizations (vaccines) For Adults


Why immunization is important:

Immunization helps you become immune (protected) from diseases caused by bacteria or viruses and helps protect others around you. Adults who have a mild form of the disease can pass it to children. The disease may be more serious in children. Without immunization, the only way to become immune is to get the disease. This is dangerous because you can develop medical problems from the disease that may be long-term or difficult to treat. Immunization helps control diseases and prevents them from coming back after they are controlled.

How immunization is done:

Inactivated (killed) or weakened forms of the virus or bacteria are given through vaccines. Vaccines are usually given as injections (shots) or nasal sprays. The vaccine will cause your body to produce antibodies. Antibodies are part of your immune system. Your body will recognize the virus or bacteria if you are exposed again and will produce the same antibodies to prevent the disease.

Diseases that can be prevented by vaccines:

  • Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis A and hepatitis B
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and influenza (flu)
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Measles and mumps
  • Meningococcus
  • Pertussis (whooping cough)
  • Pneumococcal disease, such as pneumonia
  • Polio
  • Rotavirus
  • Rubella
  • Tetanus
  • Tuberculosis (TB)
  • Varicella (chickenpox) and shingles

What you need to know about immunization:

  • You will get a Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) for each vaccine you receive. The VIS will explain what the vaccine is for and its risks and benefits. You may be able to read the VIS before you receive the vaccine. The VIS may be printed or delivered electronically to you.
  • Vaccines are given on a recommended schedule. You may need some vaccines every 5 years, or every 10 years. Some vaccines are needed each year to protect you from new forms of a virus, such as the flu. Some vaccines stop protecting you over time. You may need to have boosters for vaccines you received as a child.
  • Some vaccines are only given for certain situations. You may need rabies vaccines if you are bitten by an animal that can carry rabies. You may need certain vaccines if you are traveling to another country. Tell your healthcare provider as far as possible before you travel. The vaccines may take several weeks to become effective.
  • Keep a record of the vaccines you receive. Your healthcare provider may also keep electronic records. Records will help you make sure you receive all the vaccines you need, and at the right times. You may need the records to be able to enroll in college or to start working at certain jobs. Bring the record with you to each immunization visit.

Risks of immunization:

Rarely, a vaccine can cause the person to become sick with the disease. The area where you got the shot may be red, swollen, or sore. These effects are usually mild and go away in a few hours. Vaccines can cause allergic reactions in some people. Tell your healthcare provider about all of your allergies. Tell him if you have a weakened immune system. You will not be able to get the live forms of vaccines. Vaccines can also cause other serious health problems, such as swelling in your brain or paralysis.

Ā© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotesĀ® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.