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Topic of the month : New Vaccine Recommendations for Adults

Photo: A vaccinated man and woman

Rising cases of whooping cough and seasonal flu prompted experts to revise adult vaccination recommendations. Do you know if you or a loved one needs a booster shot? Get vaccinated to protect yourself and others.


Watch a short, fun video that highlights the need for adults to get vaccinated against serious diseases.

2011 Vaccine Recommendations: What They Mean for You

Each year the U.S. recommended immunization schedule for adults is reviewed by a federal organization that examines research on effective control of vaccine-preventable diseases. Changes in the 2011 recommendations reflect efforts to best protect you and to protect young, vulnerable children you may encounter.

The dose and the timing of a relatively new vaccine for adults, Tdap, have been updated.

Tdap Vaccine for Adults

Healthy adults age 19 years and older need to get a tetanus booster every 10 years since immunity to tetanus disease decreases over time. The booster is typically a Td vaccine, helping to protect against tetanus and diphtheria.

The Tdap vaccine, which was licensed for adult and adolescent use in 2005, protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is extremely dangerous for infants and young children. Adults infected with pertussis may not know it, since their symptoms are typically mild. This means you could unknowingly infect a susceptible child or unvaccinated infant with the disease. The Tdap booster protects you and protects young children.

Tdap Changes for 2011

Photo: A mother holding a crying child.

The newest immunization schedule at-a-glance includes the following recommendations:

  • All adults need a one-time dose of the Tdap vaccine (Tetanus, diphtheria, acelluar pertussis).
  • If you're due for your tetanus booster, ask for the Tdap vaccine instead. 
  • If you just got your tetanus booster and you will be around infants and young children, you should get the Tdap booster. There's no need to wait.
  • If you're age 65 years or older and anticipate being around infants, get a Tdap regardless of the timing of your last Td booster.

If you have questions, check with your doctor about your specific situation.

Flu Vaccine Updates

Previously, on February 24, 2010, health care experts voted that everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year. That universal recommendation is included in the 2011 schedule for adults.

Do You Need Other Vaccines?

Throughout your adult life, you need immunizations to get and maintain protection against other vaccine-preventable diseases such as shingles, seasonal flu, pneumococcal disease, and human papillomavirus. See Adults Need Immunizations, Too.


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