Adult Vaccines: Protect Yourself and Your Family

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Protect yourself, your loved ones, and others by taking these steps:

➤  Learn all you can about vaccines
➤  Ask your doctor which vaccines are right for you. This may be based on your age, health, or other factors
➤  Get the vaccines you need. Make sure you stay up to date
➤  Keep track of the vaccines you get

Vaccines help babies, children, and teens stay well. But vaccines aren’t just for kids. Adults need them too. You may need a vaccine because you never got it. Even if you got it as a child, it may have worn off.

Vaccines save lives. They protect you from disease. Each year, more than 30,000 Americans die because they did not get needed vaccines.

Vaccines are safe. You are much more likely to get very sick from the disease a vaccine protects you from than from the vaccine itself.

Vaccines protect the people around you. Some people can’t get vaccines because they are too young. Others can’t get vaccines because they have certain health problems. When you get a vaccine, it helps protect them.

 

Vaccines save lives. They protect you from disease. Each year, more than 30,000 Americans die because they did not get needed vaccines.

 

Flu Vaccine

The flu can make you very sick. It can even be deadly—especially for older people, young kids, and people with certain health problems.

You should get the flu vaccine each fall. You may be able to get it as a nasal spray.

If you are 65 or older, you may need a high dose of the flu vaccine. This protects you better. But it may also cause more side effects.

Do not get the flu vaccine if you had a very bad allergic reaction to the vaccine in the past, have a life-threatening egg allergy or a history of Guillain-Barré syndrome.

 

Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis Vaccine

Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) can make you very sick. They can even be deadly— especially for babies. Rates of whooping cough have gone up in recent years

There are two types of vaccine for these diseases:

➤  Td
➤  Tdap

You need:

➤  A Td booster every ten years
➤  At least one dose of Tdap

You also need one dose of Tdap if you are:

➤  A healthcare worker who touches patients
➤  Around babies who are younger than one year old
➤  More than 20 weeks pregnant. Get a dose of Tdap each time you are pregnant, or if you are a new mother who did not already get one
➤  Younger than 65 and have never had a dose of Tdap

 

Meningitis Vaccine

Meningitis affects the space around your brain and spinal cord. It can make you very sick. It can even kill you.

You need one dose of the meningitis vaccine if you:

➤  Are going to Africa
➤  Are going to Saudi Arabia during the Hajj
➤  Have certain conditions that weaken the immune system
➤  Live in a college dorm room

You need a second dose of the vaccine if you:

➤  Don’t have a spleen
➤  Have HIV infection

 

Pneumonia Vaccine

Pneumonia affects your lungs. It can make you very sick. It can even kill you.

You need the pneumonia vaccine if you:

➤  Are more than 65 years old
➤  Don’t have a spleen
➤  Have a spleen but it does not work
➤  Smoke

You also need the vaccine if you have:

➤  A weak immune system
➤  Alcoholism
➤  Breathing problems
➤  Diabetes
➤  Ear implants
➤  Fluid leaking from your brain or spine
➤  Heart problems
➤  HIV infection
➤  Kidney disease
➤  Liver disease

You need a second dose if you haven’t had the vaccine for more than five years and you:

➤  Are 19 to 64 years old
➤  Don’t have a spleen
➤  Have a spleen but it does not work
➤  Have a weak immune system
➤  Have long-term kidney problems

There are two types of pneumonia vaccine:

➤  PCV13
➤  PPSV23

Most adults need the PPSV23 vaccine. If you have certain health problems, you may need both types of vaccine. You should have both vaccines after you turn 65.

 

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine

HPV can cause certain cancers and other health problems. It’s spread through sexual contact.

The HPV vaccine protects you from the most common types of HPV. It is given in three doses.

Most women need the HPV vaccine when they are 11 to 26 years old. Most men need the vaccine when they are 11 to 21 years old.

 

Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine

Measles, mumps, and rubella can cause many health problems. For instance, measles can cause brain damage and death. Mumps can make you deaf. If you get rubella while you’re pregnant, it can harm or kill your unborn child.

If you are 18 to 54 years old, you need the MMR vaccine if:

➤  There is no proof you ever had the vaccine
➤  Blood tests show you are not immune to measles, mumps, or rubella

You may need two doses of the vaccine if:

➤  You got the measles vaccine between 1963 and 1967
➤  You got the mumps vaccine before 1979
➤  If you are 55 or older, you are likely immune to measles and mumps

Do not get the MMR vaccine if you are pregnant. And don’t get pregnant for at least four weeks after you get the vaccine. 

 

Chickenpox Vaccine

Chickenpox gives you itchy blisters. When the blisters burst, they form scabs.

The chickenpox vaccine is given in two doses. You need it if you have never had chickenpox or the vaccine.

Do not get the vaccine if you are pregnant.

 

Shingles Vaccine

If you get chickenpox, it stays in your body for your whole life. It can get active again if your immune system is weak. When it gets active, it gives you a painful rash called shingles.

You need the vaccine if you are 60 or older—even if you’ve already had shingles.

If you are 50 to 59 years old, ask your doctor if you should get the vaccine now, or wait until you’re 60.

 

Hepatitis A Vaccine

Hepatitis A can harm your liver. It can even kill you.

The Hepatitis A vaccine is given in two doses. You need it if you:

➤  Are a man who has sex with men
➤  Are going to Mexico, Central America, or South America
➤  Have long-term liver disease
➤  Take drugs to help your blood clot
➤  Use illegal drugs

 

Hepatitis B Vaccine

Hepatitis B can harm your liver. The vaccine is given in three doses. You need it if you are:

➤  18 to 59 years old and have diabetes
➤  A healthcare or public safety worker who touches blood or body uids
➤  A man who has sex with men
➤  Being treated for a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
➤  Going to Africa, Southeast Asia, or the Middle East
➤  Injecting drugs
➤  On dialysis

You also need the vaccine if you have:

➤  End-stage kidney disease
➤  HIV infection
➤  Long-term liver disease
➤  Sex with more than one person

If you are 60 or older and have diabetes, ask your doctor if you should get the vaccine.

HVC vaccine2
HVC vaccine
HVC ACP logo

What is high value care?

High value care weighs how much a test or treatment could help you against how much it could harm you. High value care gets you the right amount of care:

➤  In the right place
➤  At the right time

The goal is to make sure you get the best care.

 

Where can I get these vaccines?

The best place to get vaccines is your primary-care doctor—especially if you have a long-term health problem. That’s because your doctor knows about your health and which vaccines are right for you. Plus, your doctor keeps track of the vaccines you get.

There are many other places to get vaccines. These include:

  • Community health clinic
  • Local health department
  • Pharmacy
  • Retail clinic
  • Workplace or community health fair

➤  Call before you go
➤  Make sure they have the vaccines you need
➤  Ask for a record of the vaccines you get
➤  Give it to your doctor

 

How much do these vaccines cost?

Most health plans pay for the vaccines on these pages. Medicare and Medicaid pay for some of these vaccines. Check with your doctor to make sure.

 

Advice from Consumer Reports

Protect Your Children

Vaccines protect your children from disease. This helps them stay well. It also protects the health of the people around them.

Some parents worry that vaccines may cause health problems. But research has shown that the reverse is true. Vaccines save lives.

Vaccines are safe. After your children get a vaccine, they may get a sore arm. They may also get a fever, aches, and pains. These problems go away in a few days. More serious problems from vaccines are very rare.

Most children and teens need these vaccines:

➤  Chickenpox
➤  Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough)
➤  Flu
➤  Haemophilus influenza type b
➤  Hepatitis A
➤  Hepatitis B
➤ Human papillomavirus (HPV)
➤ Meningitis
➤ Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)
➤ Pneumonia
➤ Polio
➤ Rotavirus

Talk with your children’s doctor. Ask what vaccines are right for them.

 

What vaccines does my family need?

Go to www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules. You’ll find needed vaccines for babies, children, teens, and adults.

This report is for you to use when talking with your healthcare provider. It is not a substitute for medical advice and treatment. Use of this report is at your own risk.

© 2015 Consumer Reports. Developed in cooperation with the American College of Physicians. To learn more about the sources used in this report and terms and conditions of use, please visit ConsumerHealthChoices.org/about-us.