5 Vaccines for Adults: Why (and When) You Need Them

Vaccines successfully protect children from diseases that are fatal early in life.

But vaccines aren’t just for kids.

Adults need protection against diseases that can have serious — and even deadly — consequences later in life. Family medicine physician Michael Rabovsky, MD, outlines the vaccines adults should plan to get:

1. Flu shots

Good evidence reveals the flu vaccine’s power against sickness and death from influenza and its complications.

Who needs a flu shot: Everyone 6 months of age and older needs the flu vaccine. It’s especially important for those with chronic illnesses (like asthma, COPD, diabetes and heart disease) and those aged 65 and older. (Their risk for serious consequences and hospitalization is higher.)

When to get yours: Be sure to get your flu shot every year (preferably before flu season begins in late fall). For those 65 and older, the high-dose vaccine offers extra protection.

Tip: “Herd immunity works,” says Dr. Rabovsky. “In areas where more people are immunized, we see fewer flu deaths among the elderly, the immunocompromised and the young.”

2. Pneumococcal vaccine

The pneumococcal vaccine protects the vulnerable against pneumonia, meningitis and other infections that can lead to hospitalization and death.

Who needs the pneumococcal vaccine: Everyone ages 65 and older should have this vaccine. Adults who are active smokers or have a chronic medical condition such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, COPD, etc., also need the pneumococcal vaccine.

When to get yours: You’ll need two shots, the PCV13 at age 65 and the PPSV23 one year later.

Tip: “If you’re an active smoker or have a chronic medical condition, ask your doctor if you need the pneumococcal vaccine prior to…