Vaccines Aren't Just for Children
When you think about vaccinations, you probably think about the vaccines you got as a child but there are plenty of adult vaccines that you should consider getting on a routine basis to be optimally protected. Your age, lifestyle, medical and vaccine history, as well as your travel plans, determine what adult vaccines you should consider. In this article, we’ll discuss the routine immunization schedule for adults and also discuss why adult immunization is an important part of your overall health.
What Routine Vaccines Should Adults Get?
The routine vaccination schedule for adults in the United States includes:
COVID-19 – two or three-dose primary series, followed by booster shots.
Influenza inactivated (IIV4) or Influenza recombinant (RIV4) (seasonal flu vaccine) – one dose each year.
Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap or Td):
- One dose of Tdap during each pregnancy.
- One dose of Tdap or Td for management of wounds.
- One dose of Tdap or Td, then booster every ten years.
Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) – if there’s no evidence of immunity, one dose.
Varicella (VAR) – if there’s no evidence of immunity, two doses four to eight weeks apart.
Zoster (RZV) – if aged 50 or over, two doses of recombinant zoster vaccine (Shingrix) two to six months apart.
Human PapillomaVirus (HPV) – recommended for all individuals up to age 26.
- Age 15 or older at initial vaccination – three-dose series: zero, one-two months and six months.
Pneumococcal – One dose of PCV15, followed by PPSV23 or one dose of PCV20.
Hepatitis A – Two-dose series Hep A (Havrix 6-12 months apart or Vaqta 6-19 months apart) or three-dose series HepA-HepB (Twinrix at zero, one and six months).
Hepatitis B – aged 19 to 59, a two, three or four-dose series.
- Age over 60 with known risk factors for hepatitis B (chronic liver disease, HIV infection, recent or current injection drug use, sexual exposure, incarceration and travel to intermediate or high endemic Hep B areas) should complete the HepB series.
- Age over 60 with no known risk factors may complete the HepB series:
- Heplisav-B, - two doses at least four weeks apart.
- Engerix-B, PreHevbrio or Recombivax HB – three doses at zero, one and six months.
- Twinrix – three doses at zero, one and six months.
- Twinrix – four doses, accelerated schedule at zero, seven and 21-30 days, followed by a booster at 12 months.
Meningococcal A, C, W, Y – one or two doses depending on the underlying condition:
- Functional or anatomical asplenia, HIV, persistent complement component deficiency, complement inhibitor use – two-dose series MenACWY-D at least eight weeks apart, with a booster dose at five years if risk continues.
Travel to countries with epidemic or hyperendemic meningococcal disease – one dose of MenACWY, with a booster at five years if risk continues.
First-year college students living in residential housing or military recruits – one dose of MenACWY.
Meningococcal B – individuals aged 16 to 23 that have an increased right of meningococcal disease should receive two-dose series of MenB4C at least one month apart or a two-dose series MenB-FHbp at zero and six months.
Haemophilus Influenza Type B (Hib) – only recommended for adults in certain situations:
- Functional or anatomical asplenia – one dose if previously have not received Hib, in cases of elective splenectomy, one dose at least 14 days before the procedure.
- Hematopoietic stem cell transplant – three-dose series, spaced four weeks apart six to 12 months after transplant.
Why are Routine Vaccines Important?
There are many reasons for adult immunization, including:
- Vaccines Save Lives – vaccines have been proven to reduce the prevalence of diseases that once killed infants, children and adults. The effectiveness of some vaccines diminishes over time, making booster doses essential for optimal protection.
- You Might Not be Fully Vaccinated – not everyone was fully vaccinated as a child, and if you didn’t get vaccinated against diseases like varicella, measles, mumps and rubella, you should get the vaccines as an adult.
- New Vaccines are Available – some vaccines are fairly new, including the HPV and shingles vaccines. You might not even be aware that these exist, but you should consider having a chat with your doctor about them.
- Vaccines Provide Protection to You and Your Loved Ones – vaccines are the most effective way to protect yourself and your loved ones from preventable diseases as they help your body produce protective antibodies to fight off infection and prevent the spread of diseases to your loved ones and others within your community. In some cases, individuals might not be able to get certain vaccines because they are too young or too immune compromised. These individuals benefit when those around them get vaccinated against preventable diseases, as it is less likely that they’ll be exposed to the disease.
- Vaccines Prevent Serious Disease – some preventable diseases, such as the seasonal flu, can have serious complications and can even lead to death. Vaccination against these types of diseases protects against the disease and associated complications.
- Vaccines May be Required – certain vaccines are required for school, work and travel, For example, most schools, including colleges, require proof of routine vaccination. Additionally, healthcare workers are exposed to a wide variety of infections and are required to have immunizations against measles, mumps and rubella, as well as hepatitis B, and some workplaces also require the yearly seasonal flu vaccine. And certain adult vaccines are required for travel to various parts of the world.
- Vaccines Protect You if You’re Sexually Active with Numerous Partners – Hepatitis B can be transmitted through contact with bodily fluids including blood, vaginal fluid and semen. The hepatitis B vaccine is strongly recommended for individuals who have numerous sexual partners.
- Vaccines Protect You if You Suffer from Chronic Disease – if you suffer from heart or lung disease, diabetes or some other type of chronic disease, your immune system is compromised. Certain immunizations, such as the pneumococcal vaccine, help to protect you against serious diseases including pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis.
Vaccines are safe and effective with most people only experiencing mild side effects, including fever, body aches, tiredness and swelling and tenderness at the injection site. Routine adult immunization is an important component of your overall healthcare for optimal protection of yourself and those around you.