Get the Skinny on Adult Vaccines: Vaccination Guide for All Ages

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Depending on your generation, you may have differing views about vaccines. If you became a mom in the 1950s you were greatly relieved by the development of the polio vaccine and in the 1960s you would have applauded the vaccine against measles, mumps, and smallpox. However, if you became a mom in the early 2000s you were bombarded with misinformation regarding links between autism and vaccines, or conversely you may have stood in line for hours awaiting a vaccine against the swine flu.

If and when to allow the inoculation of your children becomes the first big question you have to answer days after childbirth, so vaccines are something that almost all parents have thought about, but what about your own vaccination history? Do you have records? Do you get a flu shot every year? Are you protected against the chicken pox or the whooping cough (pertussis). Are you worried about getting shingles?

Dr. Audrey Romero of Rubino OB/GYN Group in New Jersey strongly recommends that her pregnant patients get the flu shot. She insists that getting the flu shot is one of the best things a pregnant woman can do for herself and her unborn baby. Dr. Robert J. Rubino, also of Rubino OB/GYN Group agrees. He told SkinnyMom, the “flu vaccine is first to protect the mom, pregnant mothers are more susceptible to the complications of the flu, such as viral pneumonia. In fact, the number one fatality group of the "swine flu" epidemic several years ago was pregnant women. Secondly, the vaccine gives passive immunity to newborns through the mom's breast milk, newborns are another high risk group for infection.” The CDC confirms, “when you get your flu shot, your body starts to make antibodies that help protect you against the flu. Antibodies can be passed on to your unborn baby, and help protect the baby for up to 6 months after he or she is born. This is important because babies younger than 6 months of age are too young to get a flu vaccine.”

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If you don't have vaccination records, ask your general practitioner to test you for antibodies for the most common “vaccinatable” diseases, then using the chart below from Mayo Clinic to determine if you need vaccines or boosters. Those with lifestyles or jobs that put them in risk should be sure to stay on top of their vaccination records.

Ages 19 to 26

  • Influenza vaccine once a year
  • Tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine if not previously vaccinated, plus additional dose during pregnancy
  • Tetanus-diphtheria toxoids (Td) booster every 10 years
  • Varicella vaccine if not previously vaccinated or not immune
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine if not previously vaccinated
  • Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) if not previously vaccinated or not immune
  • Meningococcal vaccine for first-year college students living in residence halls if vaccine wasn't given on or after age 16

Ages 27 to 59

  • Influenza vaccine once a year
  • Tdap vaccine if not previously vaccinated, plus additional dose during pregnancy
  • Td booster every 10 years
  • MMR vaccine if not previously vaccinated or not immune

Ages 60 to 64

  • Influenza vaccine once a year
  • Tdap vaccine if not previously vaccinated
  • Td booster every 10 years
  • Zoster vaccine (shingles)

Ages 65 and older

  • Influenza vaccine once a year
  • Tdap vaccine if not previously vaccinated
  • Td booster every 10 years
  • Zoster vaccine if not previously vaccinated
  • Pneumococcal vaccine