Since the onset of COVID-19, we’ve been hearing a whole lot about vaccines. But did you know there are a range of recommended vaccines for adults beyond just the COVID shot?
But here’s the thing: life is busy. And between work and family and social lives, making sure we’re up to date on things like immunizations and preventative health screenings sometimes (read: oftentimes) doesn’t make the top of the to-do list. We’ve been there. But as we shift into fall, we encourage you to take time to reset by prioritizing YOU and your health.
To make things easier, we’ve outlined adult vaccine recommendations per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov).
As always, this is NOT meant to substitute for medical advice. Also, all the information below is accurate as of the date of publication (September 12, 2023), but vaccine information and recommendations evolve often. All of this is to say that healthcare decisions should always be made together with your primary care provider (who should also have access to your past vaccine records).
1. COVID-19 vaccine
The CDC recommends that everyone aged six and older receive an updated Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine regardless of whether an original dose was received.
If you’re 65 or older, you may receive one additional dose 4+ months after receiving your first updated vaccine, while those who are immunocompromised may receive one additional dose 2+ months after the first updated vaccine.
- Updated = bivalent (protects against the original COVID-19 virus and the Omicron variant BA.4 and BA.5)
- Original = monovalent (just protects against the original COVID-19 virus)
New vaccines are expected very shortly (fall 2023), so we’ll keep you updated!
Read more from the CDC about COVID-19 vaccines.
2. Flu vaccine (influenza)
To reduce your chances of getting the flu (along with potential doctor visits, hospitalizations, and missed work/school), the CDC recommends that everyone six months of age and older receive a flu shot per year.
Read more from the CDC about the influenza vaccine.
3. Tdap vaccine or Td vaccine
Tdap vaccines cover tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough (pertussis) while Td vaccines cover just tetanus and diphtheria.
The CDC recommends these vaccines for all adults who have never received a vaccine as a child (regardless of if/when you last got Td), with follow-up shots every 10 years.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has licensed 12 “combination vaccines” to protect against diphtheria and tetanus, nine of which also help protect against whooping cough.
Read more from the CDC about Tdap/Td vaccines.
4. Hepatitis B vaccine
Hepatitis B is caused by a virus (hepatitis B, or HBV) that targets the liver.
In addition to infants and children/adolescents younger than 19 who have not been vaccinated, the CDC recommends the hepatitis B vaccine (HepB) for:
- Adults between the ages of 19-59
- Adults ages 60 and older who are at high risk for a hepatitis B infection (although those in this age group without known risk factors may still receive the vaccine)
Read more from the CDC about the hepatitis B vaccine.
5. MMR vaccine
Adults who do not have evidence of immunity from MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) should receive one dose of the vaccine, although some groups may need two doses separated by 28 days — including healthcare workers, certain international travelers, and those at colleges and universities.
Read more from the CDC about the MMR vaccine.
6. Chickenpox vaccine
Caused by the varicella-zoster virus (or VZV for short), chickenpox is highly contagious and manifests as a rash on the chest, back, and face…although it usually spreads over most of the body.
An effective vaccine became available in the United States in 1995, and the CDC now recommends that adults who have never had chickenpox and were never vaccinated receive the vaccine. There are two doses spaced at least 28 days apart.
The vaccine is especially important for healthcare professionals, teachers, those with a weakened immune system, and international travelers.
Read more from the CDC about the chickenpox vaccine.
7. HPV vaccine
HPV stands for human papillomavirus, a common virus transmitted through sex.
The HPV vaccine is usually administered around ages 11-12 in two doses. And while the vaccine is not generally recommended for adults older than 26 (since most people in this age range have already been exposed to HPV), if you’re between 27- 45, it’s worth a discussion with your provider about your individual risk for HPV infection and potential benefits of vaccination.
Read more from the CDC about the HPV vaccine.
8. Shingles vaccine (zoster)
It’s recommended that, once adults hit age 50, they receive two doses of the shingles vaccine, Shingrix, even if you’ve had shingles in the past or have received the varicella/chickenpox vaccine (adults 70+ may receive 1-2 doses). There’s no maximum age for receiving the vaccine, which provides strong protection against both shingles and PHN (postherpetic neuralgia), a burning pain in the nerves and skin that can last after the blisters resolve.
If you’re under 50, you may still be eligible for the shingles vaccine if you’re immunocompromised (e.g., HIV-positive, on chemotherapy/radiation, etc).
Read more from the CDC about the shingles vaccine.
9. RSV (respiratory syncytial virus)
If you’re 60 or older, it’s worth discussing the RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) vaccine with your healthcare provider. At the moment, there are two licensed for use: RSVPreF3 (Arexvy, GSK) and RSVpreF (Abrysvo, Pfizer).
The CDC recommends what’s called “shared clinical decision-making” (or SCDM) for this vaccine, which means healthcare providers should have a conversation with older adult patients to determine if RSV vaccination will be beneficial based on age, health conditions, and risk factors.
Read more from the CDC about the RSV vaccine.
10. Pneumococcal vaccine
The CDC advises adults who have never received a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine to receive one if they are older than 65 OR between the ages of 19 and 64 with certain medical conditions or risk factors for pneumococcal disease, including:
- Chronic respiratory or heart conditions (e.g., heart failure)
- Chronic neurological conditions (e.g., Parkinson’s)
- Chronic kidney disease
- Immunosuppression due to disease or treatment
The conjugate vaccines include PCV13, PCV15, or PCV20.
Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about which vaccine is best for you: conjugate (PCV13, PCV15, PCV20) or polysaccharide (PPSV23).
Read more from the CDC about the pneumococcal vaccine.
Wondering about the meningococcal vaccine for meningitis? It’s recommended that all 11-12 year olds receive the shot, followed by a booster at age 16 (although teens and young adults aged 16-23 may also receive the MenB vaccine). The CDC only recommends meningococcal vaccination for adults who are at increased risk for meningococcal disease.
Read more from the CDC about the meningococcal vaccine.
Questions about immunization practices or vaccine-preventable diseases? The best place to go is your primary care provider!