Getting immunized is a lifelong, life-protecting process
Flu season is under way, so thoughts of shots might already be on your mind. But depending on factors such as your age, job, lifestyle, and health conditions, getting an annual influenza "booster" may not be the only shot you need to stay your healthiest.
"We often hear about the vaccines children need, but many people don't know what vaccines we need as adults," notes UT Southwestern Family Medicine specialist Mohita Patel, M.D. "We tend to think, 'Well, I got all my vaccines as a child, so I'm OK now,' but that's simply not the case. The need for vaccines doesn't end in childhood."
Dr. Patel and her colleagues recommend the follow five vaccines for adults:
- Influenza: Most people should get an annual flu shot, especially those who work in health care or schools and those who are older than 65.
- Pneumonia: Anyone age 65 or older should get the pneumococcal vaccine, along with anyone who is immunocompromised (and their caregivers) or a smoker.
- Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (TDAP): All adults should get the Tdap vaccine once in their life, followed by a booster Td vaccine (which prevents tetanus and diphtheria only) every 10 years.
- Hepatitis B: Most adults received this vaccine as a child—if you did, you don't need it again. If you're not sure, a simple blood test can tell you. It’s especially important for people who work in health care or nursing homes or who are immunocompromised.
- Zoster: Most people age 60 or older should get this shingles vaccine.
If you’re planning to travel outside the United States, you may need additional vaccines. Dr. Patel advises talking to your health care provider at least one month before you travel.