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You Call the Shots.

You Call the Shots

Vaccines have significantly minimized the risk of various infectious diseases that have historically threatened infants, children, and adults. Today, staying current with your immunizations is an important aspect to maintaining your overall well-being.

Adults need vaccinations, too?

Because newborns and young children haven't been exposed to many unwelcome germs and viruses, they tend to need more vaccinations early in life. But, did you know adults regularly need to get shots, too?

The 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) found that most people do not keep up with recommended vaccinations into adulthood. In fact, you may need a booster shot right now. And, depending on your age, health conditions, vaccination history, and lifestyle factors, there may be other vaccinations that would currently benefit you, too.

We all need to take responsibility for keeping up with our shots, so consult with your health care provider to find out if you need any vaccinations this year—beyond your yearly flu shot.

Why vaccinate?

There are three primary reasons why it's a good idea to get vaccinated:

1) Save yourself from serious diseases.

Vaccinations introduce inactive parts of germs (viruses or bacteria) to your immune system so that it can help your body recognize them later. Because the immune system now recognizes the invader, it can more easily overpower this threat—should you be exposed to it again. This keeps you from literally becoming a germ factory.

2) Shield your loved ones.

Getting vaccinated is not just something you do for yourself. Keeping up with your vaccines also protects your neighbors, loved ones, and coworkers from harmful diseases. It's simple: if your body recognizes a disease-causing agent in your system right away, it can fight it before you can spread it to others or get sick yourself.

3) No sick days.

Vaccines can keep you healthy and help you avoid missing work or time with your family and friends. As a busy adult, staying up to date on your vaccinations helps you spend your time the way you want—instead of sick in bed.

Getting up to speed

Depending on your age, health status, and vaccination history, you may need some of the following boosters or first-time vaccines:

  • Meningococcal (meningitis protection), booster around age 16
  • MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella)
  • Pneumococcal (pneumonia protection)
  • Td (tetanus and diphtheria protection), once every 10 years
  • Varicella (chickenpox protection)

Find out from your health care provider when you last received a particular vaccine and which are appropriate for you. If you're behind, make an appointment today to bring yourself up to date.

Who needs what vaccines?

Consult with your health care provider about the various vaccines below. It's possible that you may not have received some of them as a child, or may now be ready to receive them.

Vaccines to have on your radar

Young adults (and college-aged adults)
  • HPV (human papillomavirus)—usually ages 13 to 21
  • Meningococcal (meningitis)—initial vaccine when you're about 11 years old with a booster around age 16
All adults
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)
  • Td/Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis)
  • Varicella (chickenpox)
  • Zoster (shingles)—usually given at age 60 and older
Older adults
  • Pneumococcal (for pneumonia)
  • Zoster (for shingles)—start at 60 and older

Flu shots for everyone!

Children, adults, and older adults (65 and older) should all receive their influenza (flu) vaccine every year. If possible, visit your workplace health center this fall to protect yourself before flu season hits. In addition, older adults should go in for pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccine, usually given at age 65 and older.

What if I'm traveling?

If you plan to travel, make sure you're up to date on all recommended immunizations. Check in with your health care provider before you leave the country. You may also need to take extra precaution by getting vaccinated for some of the diseases you may encounter in the country that you're visiting. Learn more at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Travel Health site.

Do it for them

If getting vaccinated to benefit your own health isn't reason enough for you, do it for your children and others around you. Keeping up with your vaccine schedule helps keep everyone else from getting sick. So, get up to date on your vaccinations to protect others by protecting yourself. And, remember to ensure your children and older loved ones receive the necessary immunizations, too. Vaccines save lives.


Go ahead — give it a shot

1) I don't need to get vaccinated if everyone else has been vaccinated.


Even though most of the people you encounter throughout your day have been vaccinated, the reason you need to get vaccinated is to protect anyone who would be put at risk by complications from the disease. You never know when you might be in contact with someone whose immune system may not be able to handle fighting off the disease that you're carrying. A disease you wouldn't have if you'd gotten vaccinated.

2) My children got all the vaccinations the pediatrician recommended, so now that they're teenagers, we're done until they go to college.


There are a number of vaccinations your teenagers need, depending on their current health care status. There's the yearly flu vaccine, of course. And, the meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV), that protects against meningitis. The first time for receiving the MCV is around age 11, followed with a one-time booster between the ages of 16 and 18. Another important vaccination, if your teen missed it earlier, is for human papillomavirus (HPV) that can protect against cervical cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends this vaccine for both males and females, since men can be carriers of the virus.

3) Being immunized naturally (by contracting the disease) is better than getting vaccinated.


Contracting a vaccine-preventable disease can expose you to many potential dangers and long-term negative effects. However, being vaccinated helps your immune system recognize the disease before it can cause you any of these potentially life-threatening complications.

4) There is a vaccination that people can get to prevent rabies.


We've heard of vaccinating our pets against rabies. Well, there is a vaccination to prevent rabies for people, too. It's usually offered to those at high risk for encountering the disease, like veterinarians and people whose jobs call for handling animals regularly.

5) If you are a healthy adult, at what age should you begin getting a vaccine to protect against pneumonia (pneumococcal vaccine)?

D) 65

CDC recommends that healthy adults regularly get the pneumococcal vaccine at age 65 and older. The vaccine protects older adults from the potentially life-threatening complications of pneumonia.

6) Only young women need to be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV) that puts one at risk for cervical cancer.


Both young women and young men are recommended to get vaccinated and protect themselves from HPV. One of the main reasons is that young men can become carriers of the disease and infect their partners. The recommended age for being vaccinated is around 11 to 12 years old.

7) For which diseases might you need booster shots as an adult?


Depending on your age, health status, and vaccination history, you may need the following boosters or first-time vaccines: Meningococcal (meningitis—booster at around 16); MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella); Pneumococcal (pneumonia protection); Td (tetanus and diphtheria protection) once every 10 years; and/or Varicella (chickenpox protection)

Ask your health care provider when you last received a particular vaccine and which ones are appropriate for you. And, if you're behind, bring yourself up to date by making an appointment today.

8) How frequently should you get a flu shot?


The flu tends to be different year to year because of different strains and mutations. Each year's flu vaccine is custom-tailored to address that year's dominant strains, so the shot you got last year probably won't protect you from this year's flu.

9) I don't have to get any vaccinations if I'm traveling on a cruise ship.


It's always a good idea to talk to your health care provider before you go out of the country. Depending on what countries you're visiting, you may need to be vaccinated for certain diseases. That way, you'll be protected if you go on a shore excursion, and you'll be protected from infection by others who go ashore and who could serve as carriers. Also, since there can be people from all over the world on a cruise ship and may not be fully vaccinated, make sure that you're up to date on your routine vaccines, too (flu, tetanus, measles, mumps, diphtheria, chickenpox, etc.).

Some common vaccines for those traveling abroad include: Hepatitis A and B, Meningococcal disease, Polio, Typhoid, and, in some cases, Rabies and/or Yellow Fever.

10) How many lives are saved worldwide through immunization by vaccination?


In fact, according to the World Health Organization, immunization prevents two to three million deaths every year from diseases such as cervical cancer, diphtheria, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), pneumonia, polio, rotavirus, diarrhea, rubella and tetanus.


If you got 1-3 questions correct, you need to give it another shot.

If you got 4-7 questions correct, you gave it your best shot.

If you got 8-10 questions correct, you're a big shot!