Public Health: Adult Vaccinations

Is it important for adults to be vaccinated?

Yes. Some illnesses, once contracted, do not have a cure and may cause serious health problems or even death. Vaccines are among the safest medical products available, are very effective and can prevent the suffering and costs associated with many diseases.

About 50,000 adults die each year in the United States from diseases that can be prevented with vaccines.

What vaccines do adults need?

  • Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap).
  • Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). People born after 1957 should receive this vaccination.
  • Pneumococcal polysaccharide. It is recommended that adults over age 65 receive this vaccination.
  • Recommended for anyone older than 6 months.
  • Hepatitis B. This vaccination is recommended for adults in certain high-risk groups, such as health care workers, household contacts of people with chronic hepatitis B, people with a recently acquired sexually transmitted disease, adults under age 60 who have diabetes and people who have or have had multiple sex partners.
  • Hepatitis A. Recommended for adults in certain high-risk groups including travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common, people with chronic liver disease or clotting-factor disorders such as hemophilia, and users of illegal drugs.
  • Varicella, commonly known as chickenpox. Many adults who have not had chickenpox or been previously immunized should receive the varicella vaccine, including day care workers and teachers of young children, residents and staff in institutional settings, military personnel, nonpregnant women of childbearing age, international travelers, and health care workers and their family members.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV). Recommended for young adults and those who are immunocompromised through age 26. Not recommended for women while pregnant.
  • A single dose is recommended for people aged 60 and older.

How often do adults need vaccinations?

Immunizations for pneumococcal disease and measles, mumps and rubella generally protect indefinitely after one dose. However, other vaccines require multiple doses, or must be administered more than once to ensure they continue to be effective.

  • The Tdap vaccine should be administered to adults at 10-year intervals.
  • The influenza vaccine must be administered yearly due to the annual appearance of new strains of the virus.
  • The hepatitis B vaccine is usually administered in three doses over a six-month period.
  • Two doses of the hepatitis A vaccine are needed to ensure long-term protection.
  • Two doses of the varicella vaccine are recommended for those over age 13 who have not yet had chickenpox; an additional dose is recommended for those who have only had one dose previously administered.

Ask your doctor if you are up-to-date.

For more information on the above recommendations and a complete listing of all recommended adult vaccinations, visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/downloads/adult/adult-combined-schedule.pdf.


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