You're never too old to get vaccinated

By Michael Dubin, MD  |  11/14/2018

With the new school year here, many of us are busy parents making sure our children are up-to-date on all the necessary vaccines. But it's important to note that the need for immunizations does not end in childhood.

Adults may require inoculations for a variety of reasons. For example, the shingles vaccine is recommended for adults age 50 and older as the disease is more likely to happen as a person ages and/or to people whose immune system is weakened due to cancer or from medications including steroids and chemotherapy.

Getting an annual influenza vaccine is an effective way to ward off the flu as new strains rapidly evolve each year. Last year's flu shot may not be effective against this year's viruses.

Immunizations that may not have been around when you were a child, including the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine may now be beneficial for you. It's important to be aware of the latest protections now available.

Childhood vaccines may wear off over time so an adult may need additional doses of certain inoculations to stay protected. Lastly, adults may also be at an increased risk for diseases based on travel, work environment and/or their health conditions. Certain immunizations are mandatory while traveling abroad.

Below is a helpful list of vaccination recommendations for adults age 19 and older. Please remember to first consult with your doctor to ensure that you are current with the vaccines that are right for you.

  • Influenza vaccines each year for children ages six months to adults under 65. Adults over 65 should also receive a flu shot and not the nasal spray vaccine. Check with your doctor about high dose flu vaccines designed specifically for adults 65 and older.
  • Everyone should receive a tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine once, followed by a tetanus and diphtheria (Td) booster every 10 years. Pregnant women should be given a Tdap vaccine during every pregnancy at some point between 27 and 36 gestational weeks.
  • Two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine should be given in a person's lifetime. College students who did not receive the MMR vaccine as a child, and have no evidence of immunity, need two doses of the MMR vaccine, separated by 28 days.
  • Two doses of recombinant zoster vaccine (shingles), two to six months apart, is advised for adults age 50 and older, regardless of a past episode of shingles.
  • The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13), to protect against pneumonia, should be administered to all adults age 65 and older, children younger than two and people ages two through 64 with certain medical conditions. The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) is recommended for all adults 65 years and older, people ages two through 64 years old with certain medical conditions and adults 19 through 64 years old who smoke cigarettes. Talk with a physician about specific timing and which vaccine is best for you.
  • Adults who did not receive hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines as children should get inoculated. Adults need two doses of hepatitis A vaccine six months apart and the hepatitis B vaccine is given in three doses, the second dose given one month after the first dose, followed by a third dose six months after the second dose. There are also combination hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccinations available.
  • The meningococcal vaccine should be given to adults with sickle cell disease or those without a spleen. Other indications include those living with HIV, first-year, college students residing in a dorm and military recruits.
  • The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine series should be given to both male and females up to age 26 if not received in adolescence.

Dr. Michael Dubin is a primary care physician with Health Quest Medical Practice.