Vaccines prevent more than 2 to 3 million deaths each year according to the World Health Organization. They protect not only those receiving the vaccines, but also everyone around them—especially those with weakened immune systems. And although many people think of vaccinations as something only babies and children need, teens, young adults and seniors should also get vaccinated to protect against diseases.
Here’s what you need to know about recommended vaccines at every stage of life according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s important to note that these are just recommendations, so consult your physician to find out exactly which vaccines you need.
11 to 12 year olds:
- Tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis
This vaccine, commonly referred to as the “Tdap” vaccine protects against all three of the above diseases. You might know pertussis by its other name, whooping cough.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)(HPV2 is for females only; HPV4 is for both males and females)
This vaccination is a three-dose series that protects against certain cancers and other diseases caused by HPV.
Now is the time when your child should get the initial dose of the meningococcal conjugate vaccine, which protects against bacterial meningitis.
13 to 18 year olds:
Some college freshmen or other students living in a dorm might be required to get a booster shot.
19 to 26 year olds:
- HPV vaccine
As noted above, the CDC recommends that girls and boys aged 11 or 12 get the three-dose HPV vaccine series. For those who did not get the vaccine when they were younger, it is recommended that they get it now. Men should get the series between the ages of 19 and 21 and women should get it between the ages of 19 and 26.
19 to 55 year olds:
- Measles, mumps, rubella
Between 2 and 5 percent of people do not develop measles immunity after the first dose of vaccine they get as a baby. This occurs for a variety of reasons and might require one or two doses later in life. Those who are considered high risk and need a second dose include health care personnel, international travelers and people exposed to measles in an outbreak setting. Learn more about the importance of the MMR vaccine here.
19 to 65 year olds (or older):
- Varicella (chickenpox)
The CDC recommends that children under 13 should get two doses – the first at 12 to 15 months and the second at 4 to 6 years-old. If you didn’t receive the chickenpox vaccine as a child, they recommend that you should get two doses as an adult at least 28 days apart.
65 year olds and older:
- Pneumococcal polysaccharide
This single-dose vaccine helps protect against severe infections in the blood and lungs due to a group of bacteria called streptococcus pneumoniae. After receiving the vaccine, your body learns to attack the bacteria if you come in contact with it, making you less likely to get sick from an infection.
The CDC recommends that everybody receives a flu vaccine on an annual basis.
In addition to consulting with your physician, the CDC has a quiz for adults and adolescents to take to find out which vaccines you may need.