Why are Vaccines Important for Adults?

Vaccines can help protect your health at every stage and every age of your life.

Every year thousands of adults in the U.S. become seriously ill and are hospitalized because of diseases that vaccines can help prevent, like flu and pneumococcal disease. Many adults even die from these diseases. By getting vaccinated, you lower your chances of getting certain diseases and help protect yourself from much of this unnecessary suffering. In addition, no one wants to get sick and miss weeks of work or school, or miss spending time with family and friends due to a preventable disease.

You Can Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones from Diseases

Vaccines lower your chance of spreading disease. By getting vaccinated, not only do you stay healthier, but you can also help avoid spreading a serious infectious disease, such as flu or whooping cough, to others. For example, some people in your family or community may not be able to get certain vaccines due to their age or certain health conditions, and they depend on you to help prevent the spread of disease.

Infants, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems (like those undergoing cancer treatment) are especially vulnerable to infectious diseases.

Learn about the vaccines recommended for adults, and the diseases they protect against, by clicking on the vaccine listed in the gray sidebar, and below.

All Adults
  • Flu VaccineAll adults need a flu vaccine every year. It is especially important for people with chronic health conditions, pregnant women and older adults since they are at higher risk of flu complications.
  • Tdap VaccineEvery adult should get the Tdap vaccine once if they did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against whooping cough (pertussis), tetanus and diphtheria, and then a Td booster shot (tetanus & diphtheria only) every 10 years. If you are going to be around a newborn, its particularly important to get the Tdap shot to help protect the baby from dangerous diseases like whooping cough before he or she she can be fully vaccinated. Additionally, women should get the Tdap vaccine each time they are pregnant, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks to protect themselves and their babies from whooping cough. Learn more by visiting our Pregnancy section.
Adults Ages 19-49

In addition to flu and Tdap vaccines, adults between 19 and 49 years old may also need:

  • HPV Vaccine – Protects against six HPV-related cancers and genital warts. The CDC recommends HPV vaccine for women up to age 26, men up to age 21, and men ages 22-26 who have sex with men.

In addition to the vaccines mentioned above, other vaccines may be recommended for you based on certain risk factors including chronic health conditions, lifestyle, your workplace and/or travel.

Adults Ages 50+

As we get older, our immune systems tend to weaken over time, putting us at higher risk for certain diseases. So, in addition to flu and Tdap vaccines, adults between 50 years and older may also need:

  • Shingles Vaccine – Protects against shingles and the complications from the disease. The CDC recommends 2 doses of shingles vaccine (Shingrix) for all healthy adults starting at age 50.
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines (PCV13 and PPSV23) – Protect against pneumococcal disease. Pneumococcal vaccines are recommended for all adults over 65 years old, and for adults younger than 65 years who have certain chronic health conditions.

In addition to the vaccines mentioned above, other vaccines may be recommended for you based on certain risk factors including chronic health conditions, travel, lifestyle and/or your workplace.

CDC's Adult Vaccination Quiz

CDC's Recommended Adult Immunization Schedule

Commonly Asked Questions About Vaccines for Adults

Yes, the CDC’s Recommended Adult Immunization Schedule is available in both English and Spanish

Protecting yourself against diseases through vaccination also protects your family, friends, coworkers and others you might come in contact with, including vulnerable infants, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems. Getting sick with diseases like the flu, mumps, pneumonia, shingles, and other vaccine-preventable diseases are not only inconvenient with days of bed rest, missed work, cancelled plans and possible hospitalization, but can also be extremely dangerous to any adult. In fact, this past flu season a perfectly healthy 21-year-old bodybuilder in Pennsylvania died from the flu within 24 hours of showing symptoms. The CDC estimates that since 2010, flu annually results in:

  • Between 9.3 million and 49.0 million illnesses
  • Between 140,000 and 960,000 hospitalizations
  • Between 12,000 and 79,000 death

Some of these people were healthy prior to getting the flu.

All of the diseases that we protect ourselves against are still circulating here in the U.S. and abroad. As a matter of fact, many outbreaks of measles in the U.S. started from travelers who were exposed to diseases when visiting other countries and returned home unknowingly infecting fellow travelers and others once back in the U.S.

Staying up-to-date with all of the recommended immunizations is the best way to protect yourself, your family and your community against serious, and potentially deadly, vaccine-preventable diseases.