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A shot in the arm

Just like kids, adults need to be vaccinated. But keeping track of what you’re supposed to get and when can be daunting. Roll up your sleeve and learn what shots you need:

  • Influenza (flu). Because the flu strain changes from season to season, it’s important for everyone to get a flu shot every fall. Note that babies under 6 months can’t receive the vaccine.
  • Pneumococcal (pneumonia). If you’re 64 or under and smoke or have chronic health problems, you’ll need one or two doses. If you’re 65 or older and have never been vaccinated, you’ll need at least one dose; you may need a second if you received your first dose before age 65 and five or more years ago, or you have a weak immune system or chronic health problems.
  • Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap). A tetanus-diphtheria (Td) booster is recommended every 10 years for adults. If you’re under 65, substitute the Tdap vaccine for one of those booster shots to add protection against pertussis. Receiving a pertussis booster is especially important for parents of newborn children. If you’ve never completed a vaccination series, you’ll need three doses in one year, including one Tdap. A Td booster is also advised for people who have a wound that could become infected and had their last tetanus vaccine five or more years ago.
  • Zoster (shingles). Anyone over age 60 should receive the one-dose shingles vaccine.

Remember that not everyone can be vaccinated. People who have severe allergies to eggs can’t get the flu shot. And if you’ve had allergic reactions to certain vaccines in the past, it’s recommended you not get those shots again. Certain health conditions such as Guillain-Barré syndrome may exclude you from vaccinations as well.

It’s best to talk with your healthcare provider about which vaccinations can benefit you.