Vaccines for adults: Which do you need?
Vaccines offer protection from infectious diseases. Find out how to stay on top of the vaccines recommended for adults.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
You're not a kid anymore, so you don't have to worry about shots, right? Wrong. Here's how to stay on top of your vaccines.
What factors might affect my vaccine recommendations?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccines for adults based on your age, prior vaccinations, health, lifestyle, occupation, travel destinations and sexual activity.
How can I check my vaccination status?
To gather information about your vaccination status, talk to your parents or other caregivers. Check with your doctor's office, as well as any previous doctors' offices, schools and employers. Or contact your state health department to see if it has a registry that includes adult immunizations.
If you can't find your records, your doctor might be able to do blood tests to see if you are immune to certain diseases that can be prevented by vaccines. You might need to get some vaccines again.
What vaccines do adults need?
Talk to your doctor about your specific needs. Adult vaccines to consider include:
Flu (influenza) vaccine. To prevent the flu, the CDC recommends annual flu vaccination for everyone ages 6 months or older. Adults age 50 and older should not get the nasal spray flu vaccine. The flu can cause serious complications in older adults.
Pneumococcal vaccine. The CDC recommends the pneumococcal vaccines — there are two — for adults age 65 and older. Younger adults at increased risk for pneumococcal disease also might need a dose of the vaccine. Pneumococcal disease causes infections, such as pneumonia, meningitis and bloodstream infections.
Tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine. One dose of Tdap is routinely given at age 11 or 12. If you've never had a Tdap vaccine, the CDC recommends getting the Tdap vaccine as soon as possible. One dose of Tdap vaccine is also recommended during each pregnancy, ideally between week 27 and 36 of pregnancy. Tdap can protect you from tetanus (lockjaw), whooping cough (pertussis) and diphtheria, which can lead to breathing problems. A Td booster is recommended every 10 years.
Shingles. To prevent shingles, the CDC recommends the vaccine Shingrix for healthy adults age 50 and older. It's given in two doses. While not life-threatening, shingles can be very painful.
Human papillomavirus (HPV). The CDC recommends the HPV vaccine for girls and boys ages 11 or 12. Teens and young adults who begin the vaccine series later, at ages 15 through 26, should continue to receive three doses of the vaccine. The FDA also has approved the HPV vaccine Gardasil 9 for males and females ages 9 to 45. HPV is a common virus that can lead to cancer.
COVID-19. When you are eligible, get a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine. A COVID-19 vaccine might prevent you from getting COVID-19 or from becoming seriously ill or dying due to COVID-19.
To stay on top of your vaccines, ask your doctor for an immunization record form. Bring the form with you to all of your doctor visits and ask your provider to sign and date the form for each vaccine you receive.
COVID -19 & Other Recommended Adult Immunizations
Myths and Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines
Accurate vaccine information is critical and can help stop common myths and rumors. It can be difficult to know which sources of information you can trust. Learn more about finding credible vaccine information.
Below are myths and facts about
Bust Common Myths and Learn the Facts
MYTH: COVID-19 vaccines cause variants.
FACT: COVID-19 vaccines do not create or cause variants of the virus that causes COVID-19. Instead, COVID-19 vaccines can help prevent new variants from emerging.
[COVID-19 vaccines do not create or cause variants of the virus that causes COVID-19.]
New variants of a virus happen because the virus that causes COVID-19 constantly changes through a natural ongoing process of mutation (change). As the virus spreads, it has more opportunities to change. High vaccination coverage in a population reduces the spread of the virus and helps prevent new variants from emerging. CDC recommends that everyone 5 years of age and older get vaccinated as soon as possible.
MYTH: All events reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) are caused by vaccination.
FACT: Anyone can report events to VAERS, even if it is not clear whether a vaccine caused the problem. Because of this, VAERS data alone cannot determine if the reported adverse event was caused by a COVID-19 vaccination.
Some VAERS reports may contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, or unverifiable. Vaccine safety experts study these adverse events and look for unusually high numbers of health problems, or a pattern of problems, after people receive a particular vaccine.
Recently, the number of deaths reported to VAERS following COVID-19 vaccination has been misinterpreted and misreported as if this number means deaths that were proven to be caused by vaccination. Reports of adverse events to VAERS following vaccination, including deaths, do not necessarily mean that a vaccine caused a health problem.
MYTH: The mRNA vaccine is not considered a vaccine.
FACT: mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, work differently than other types of vaccines, but they still trigger an immune response inside your body.
This type of vaccine is new, but research and development on it has been underway for decades.
The mRNA vaccines do not contain any live virus. Instead, they work by teaching our cells to make a harmless piece of a “spike protein,” which is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. After making the protein piece, cells display it on their surface. Our immune system then recognizes that it does not belong there and responds to get rid of it. When an immune response begins, antibodies are produced, creating the same response that happens in a natural infection.
In contrast to mRNA vaccines, many other vaccines use a piece of, or weakened version of, the germ that the vaccine protects against. This is how the measles and flu vaccines work. When a weakened or small part of the virus is introduced to your body, you make antibodies to help protect against future infection.
MYTH: COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips.
FACT: COVID-19 vaccines do not contain microchips. Vaccines are developed to fight against disease and are not administered to track your movement.
Vaccines work by stimulating your immune system to produce antibodies, exactly like it would if you were exposed to the disease. After getting vaccinated, you develop immunity to that disease, without having to get the disease first.
MYTH: Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine can make you magnetic.
FACT: Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine will not make you magnetic, including at the site of vaccination which is usually your arm.
COVID-19 vaccines do not contain ingredients that can produce an electromagnetic field at the site of your injection. All COVID-19 vaccines are free from metals.
MYTH: COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States shed or release their components.
FACT: Vaccine shedding is the release or discharge of any of the vaccine components in or outside of the body and can only occur when a vaccine contains a live weakened version of the virus.
None of the vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. contain a live virus. mRNA and viral vector vaccines are the two types of currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines available.
MYTH: COVID-19 vaccines can alter my DNA.
FACT: COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way.
Both mRNA and viral vector COVID-19 vaccines deliver instructions (genetic material) to our cells to start building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. However, the material never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept.
MYTH: A COVID-19 vaccine can make me sick with COVID-19.
FACT: Because none of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19, the vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.
COVID-19 vaccines teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are signs that the body is building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19.
MYTH: COVID-19 vaccines will affect my fertility.
FACT: Currently no evidence shows that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems (problems trying to get pregnant) in women or men.
COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for people who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future, as well as their partners.
MYTH: Being near someone who received a COVID-19 vaccine will affect my menstrual cycle.
FACT: Your menstrual cycle cannot be affected by being near someone who received a COVID-19 vaccine.
MYTH: Getting a COVID-19 vaccine will cause me to test positive on a viral test.
FACT: None of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines can cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection.
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