Vaccines for adults: Which do you need?
You're not a kid anymore, so you don't have to worry about shots, right? Wrong. Find out how to stay on top of your vaccines.
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Sep 20, 2018.
What vaccines do adults need?
Vaccines for adults are recommended based on your age, prior vaccinations, health, lifestyle, occupation and travel destinations.
The schedule is updated every year, and changes range from the addition of a new vaccine to tweaks of current recommendations. To determine exactly which vaccines you need now and which vaccines are coming up, check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website.
What factors might affect my vaccine recommendations?
Several factors can affect whether you need certain vaccines. Be sure to tell your doctor if you:
- Are planning to travel abroad
- Have had your spleen removed
- Work in certain occupations where exposures could occur
- Are or might be pregnant
- Are breast-feeding
- Are moderately or severely ill or have a chronic illness
- Have any severe allergies, including a serious allergic reaction to a previous dose of a vaccine
- Have had a disorder in which your body's immune system attacks your nerves, such as Guillain-Barre syndrome
- Have a weakened immune system or are being treated with an immunosuppressant
- Have recently had another vaccine
- Have recently had a transfusion or received other blood products
- Have a personal or family history of seizures
Your doctor might also recommend certain vaccines based on your sexual activity. Vaccinations can protect you from hepatitis A and hepatitis B, serious liver infections that can spread through sexual contact. The HPV vaccine is recommended for men up to age 21 and women up to age 26.
Why are some vaccines particularly important for adults?
Adults of any age can benefit from vaccines. However, certain diseases, such as the flu, can be particularly serious for older adults or those living with certain chronic illnesses.
How can I keep track of my vaccines?
To gather information about your vaccination status, talk to your parents or other caregivers. Check with your doctor's office, as well as any previous doctors' offices, schools and employers. Some states also have registries that include adult immunizations. To check, contact your state health department.
If you can't find your records, talk to your doctor. He or she might be able to do blood tests to see if you are immune to certain diseases that can be prevented by vaccines. You might need to get some vaccines again.
To stay on top of your vaccines, ask your doctor for an immunization record form. Bring the form with you to all of your doctor visits and ask your provider to sign and date the form for each vaccine you receive.