Feature Article — Adult Vaccine Recommendations? What Should I Know?
Published on in Parents PACK
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Published on in Parents PACK
Adult vaccine needs do not get nearly the attention that childhood vaccines do. In part this is because children have regularly scheduled healthcare visits during which vaccines are discussed and administered, and in part, it is because vaccines are often required to attend daycare or school. Vaccine requirements play an important role in stemming the spread of infectious diseases in schools and by extension, homes and communities. Unfortunately, the focus on vaccine requirements (“What vaccines are needed for my child to attend school?”) diminishes attention to the more important “R word” when it comes to vaccines — recommendations.
Vaccine recommendations are the guidance related to who should get a vaccine, when and how many doses. These are used to create the vaccine schedule, but just because a vaccine is on the schedule does not mean it is required. States decide requirements, whereas recommendations are made at the federal level. Unfortunately, when vaccines are recommended but not required, they often do not get the same attention from healthcare providers or patients. If requirements are viewed as “must haves,” recommendations tend to be treated as “nice to haves.” But that is not the best way of looking at recommendations because the reality is that if a person gets all the required vaccines, they will have some protection. If they get all the recommended vaccines, they will have better protection. When my children were young, I didn’t even think about requirements. If a vaccine was recommended, I wanted my kids to have it. Why leave protection on the table?
When it comes to adult vaccines, requirements are few and far between. Since most adult vaccines are recommended and few are required, many adults put themselves at unnecessary risk. They may not even realize they are doing so, especially since adults are particularly bad at getting themselves to the doctor unless they are ill, and vaccine conversations do not often make the cut during provider-patient discussions.
Recently, recommendations have changed for several adult vaccines, so we thought it would be a good time to describe these changes and remind adults of other recommended vaccines.
Adults are also recommended to be protected against several other infectious diseases, including shingles, hepatitis A, measles, mumps, rubella and meningococcus. The recommendations for each of these vaccines vary, so talk to your healthcare provider if you are uncertain of your vaccine status.
If traveling internationally, additional vaccines may be of benefit. Likewise, certain subgroups of adults have more specific recommendations based on their health status (e.g., chronic conditions), job, or a temporary status, such as during pregnancy or before receiving chemotherapy or an organ transplant.
For more detailed information, check out the VEC’s recently updated booklet, “Vaccines and Adults: A Lifetime of Health.” The booklet is also available in Spanish.
Categories: Parents PACK February 2023, Feature Article
Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Vaccine Education Center staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.
You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family's personal health. You should not use it to replace any relationship with a physician or other qualified healthcare professional. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult your physician or, in serious cases, seek immediate assistance from emergency personnel.