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Doctors Talk About 9 Types of Vaccines That Adults Need

Vaccines save up to 3 million lives every year, according to the World Health Organization. And they aren’t just for children, adults should get vaccinated too. That is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself from serious diseases, some of which can be deadly. And you’ll also be protecting those who can’t have vaccines due to certain health issues or other factors.

We at Bright Side want you to stay healthy, so here are some vaccines you should get in adulthood.


The influenza virus changes frequently, and no one can predict how deadly it will be. That's why new versions of vaccines are developed every year. Annual flu shots can protect you against this disease. Common symptoms include coughing, sore throat, fever, runny nose, headaches, and fatigue. Influenza can be especially dangerous for some people. Like those who have certain health conditions, e.g. chronic lung disease or diabetes, pregnant women, and adults who are 65 years or older.

2. Human papillomavirus

HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. It can lead to cervical cancer, as well as other types of cancer, and genital warts. The vaccine is most effective if you get it at age 11 or 12, before you start having sex. However, if you are already older and sexually active, you should still get vaccinated. The HPV vaccine is usually given in 3 doses over a 6 month period.

3. Pneumococcal

Pneumococcal infection can cause pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis. To prevent these diseases, it is recommended that people who are 65 or older to get vaccinated. And if you are between 19 and 64 years old, you should consider vaccination if you have certain risk factors. Those include chronic illnesses, conditions that weaken your immune system, like HIV/AIDS and cancer, having cochlear implants or cerebrospinal fluid leaks, asthma, and smoking.

4. Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap, Td)

Tetanus is a disease that causes painful muscle cramps and can be deadly. Diphtheria can lead to breathing and heart problems, and paralysis. Pertussis, or whooping cough, causes severe coughing that can last for weeks and that can even result in broken ribs. If you've never received a Tdap vaccine (or DTaP in your childhood), you need to get one. After that, you need to get a Td booster dose every 10 years. If you are pregnant, it`s recommended that you get Tdap during the 3rd trimester of your pregnancy to protect your baby from these diseases.

5. Zoster (shingles)

Shingles, or zoster, is a painful skin rash with blisters. It goes away after 2 to 4 weeks, but for some people, the pain can stay for months or even years. This condition is called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), and it's the most common complication of shingles. As you get older, the risk of getting zoster and PHN increases. If you are 50 or older, you should get vaccinated. This disease can occur more than once, so a vaccination is needed even if you've had shingles before.

5. Chickenpox (varicella)

Chickenpox is a very contagious disease. Complications might include pneumonia, brain damage, and skin infections. If you've never had chickenpox, never got a vaccine, or got only one dose, you should get 2 doses of the chickenpox vaccine. It's especially important for health care professionals and people who often come into contact with children.

7. Measles, mumps, and rubella

MMR is a vaccine that protects against 3 diseases. Measles, which can cause pneumonia, brain damage, and even death; mumps, which can lead to deafness, meningitis, and encephalitis; and rubella, which can lead to nerve inflammation. Adults should get at least one dose of the MMR vaccine. Certain people, like college students, those who travel abroad, and health care professionals, are recommended to get 2 doses.

8. Meningococcal

Meningococcal disease is extremely life-threatening, in some cases causing death or serious complications, e.g. brain damage. The CDC recommends getting a vaccine for people who have a damaged spleen, HIV, those traveling to countries where the disease is common, and first-year college students living on campus.

9. Hepatitis A and B

Hepatitis A is a liver disease. You can contract it if you eat food or drink water contaminated with infected feces or through contact with an infected person. You should get a hepatitis A vaccine if you have certain risk factors. For example, if you travel to countries where this disease is common or if you come in direct contact with people who have it.

Hepatitis B is also a liver disease. You can get it if you come in contact with the blood or other bodily fluids of someone who's infected. Vaccination is especially important for people who are exposed to blood at their job and for those who live with an infected person.

Did you know about these vaccines? Are you up to date with any of them? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Illustrated by Oleg Guta for Bright Side