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Healthy You

When Do Adults Need Boosters?

Tuesday, August 09, 2016 7:51 AM

Just like with kids, adults need to follow up on various boosters during annual physical exams. There are a few vaccines that are recommended for all adults, with some that vary based on age, job, lifestyle or health conditions.


To help adults understand which vaccines and boosters are needed, Emily Andrew, MD, Internal Medicine at NorthShore, explains what they protect against:

  • Seasonal influenza
  • Whooping cough
  • Tetanus
  • Shingles
  • Pneumococcal disease

There are other vaccines that are recommended to protect against human papillomavirus (HPV), meningococcal disease, hepatitis B, hepatitis A, chickenpox, and measles, mumps and rubella.

Dr. Andrew recommends these vaccines and a suggestion timeline for adults:

  • Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Td/Tdap): A booster is needed every 10 years for adults and pregnant women should receive a booster during her third trimester.
  • Influenza (flu): An annual vaccination is recommended for all people six months and older, though your age may determine what type of vaccine you need.
  • Varicella (chickenpox): A vaccine series of two doses given to adults who have no immunity to the virus. Not recommended for pregnant individuals.
  • Zoster (shingles): Vaccine for adults 60 or older. Not recommended for pregnant individuals.
  • Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR): One or more vaccinations given to adults who have no immunity to the virus. Not recommended for pregnant individuals.
  • Pneumococcal: A vaccines for adults 65 and older, which can protect against pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis. There are two different vaccines - Pneumovax and Prevnar - typically given one year apart in healthy individuals.
  • Meningococcal: Common vaccine for military recruits and college students living in dorms which can protect against meningitis.

It is important to remember that these are guidelines for healthy adults and there are many health conditions which can alter the schedule, so it is important to always check with your primary care physician to see what vaccines he or she may recommend.

How often do you go in for your annual physical exam?