The Basics: Overview
Adults need to get vaccines (shots) just like kids do. Make sure you're up to date on your vaccines.
- Get a flu vaccine every year. The seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others from the flu. Learn more about the flu vaccine.
- Get the Tdap vaccine to protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough (pertussis). Everyone needs to get the Tdap vaccine once, and pregnant women need a dose during every pregnancy. Learn about the Tdap vaccine.
- After you get a Tdap vaccine, get a Td vaccine every 10 years to keep you protected from tetanus and diphtheria. Learn about the Td vaccine.
- Get the HPV vaccine to protect against HPV (human papillomavirus). HPV is a very common infection that can cause cancer. Everyone needs the HPV vaccine by age 26. If you’re ages 27 to 45 and you haven’t gotten the HPV vaccine, talk to your doctor. Learn more about the HPV vaccine.
- Get a COVID-19 vaccine to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Find a COVID-19 vaccine near you.
- Older adults need vaccines to protect against diseases like shingles and pneumonia. If you're age 50 or older, find out which other vaccines you may need.
Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about other vaccines you may need to stay healthy.
The Basics: Health Benefits
Why do I need to get vaccines?
Vaccines help protect you against diseases that can be serious — and sometimes deadly. Many of these diseases are common, but vaccines can prevent them.
Even if you got all your vaccines as a child, you still need vaccines as an adult. The protection from some vaccines can wear off over time. And as you get older, you may be at risk for other diseases, like shingles.
Getting vaccinated also protects other people.
Getting your vaccines doesn't just protect you — it also protects the people around you. Some people in your family or community may not be able to get certain vaccines because of their age or a health condition.
Protect yourself and the people around you by staying up to date on your vaccines. Find out how getting vaccinated helps protect people in your community.
The Basics: Other Vaccines
Do I need any other vaccines to help me stay healthy?
You may need other vaccines if you:
- Didn’t get all your vaccines when you were a child
- Have a health condition like HIV that makes it harder for your body to fight off infections
- Have a long-term health condition like diabetes or heart, lung, or liver disease
- Are pregnant
- Are a man who has sex with men
- Spend time with infants or young children
- Travel outside the United States
And you may need other vaccines if you work in a:
- School or daycare center
- Hospital or clinic
- Nursing home
Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need any other vaccines. You can also use this tool to find out which vaccines you may need.
Take Action: Make a Plan
Talk with a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about getting up to date on your vaccines.
Make a plan to get your vaccines.
Schedule an appointment with your doctor or nurse to get the vaccines you need. You may also be able to get vaccines at your local pharmacy.
If you’re not sure where to start, call your doctor’s office or local health department.
Get a seasonal flu vaccine every year.
Remember, everyone age 6 months and older needs to get the seasonal flu vaccine every year.
What about cost?
Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance plans must cover vaccines. Depending on your insurance plan, you may be able to get vaccines at no cost to you. Check with your insurance company to find out more.
Medicare may also cover vaccines for older adults at no cost. If you have Medicare, use this tool to see what Medicare covers.
If you don't have insurance, you may still be able to get free or low-cost vaccines:
- Find a health center near you and ask about vaccines
- Find a free or low-cost vaccine program in your state
To learn more, check out these resources:
Take Action: Keep a Record
Keep a copy of your vaccination record.
Ask your doctor to print out a record of all the vaccines you've had. Keep this record in a safe place. You may need it for certain jobs or if you travel outside the United States.
If you're not sure which vaccines you’ve had, try these tips for finding old vaccination records. If you still can’t find a record of your vaccines, talk with your doctor — you may need to get some vaccines again.
Content last updated May 10, 2022
This information on vaccines for adults was adapted from materials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health Communication Science Office
National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention