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Vaccines - They're Not Just for Kids

Posted: 2019-09-02

Vaccination is not just for children. Vaccines are safe and protect you and those around you from vaccine-preventable diseases. As we get older, the protection we had from previous vaccination can decrease for some diseases. Getting another dose (called a booster) can increase our immunity to provide the best protection. Some adults may have missed one or more of their vaccines when they were a child. They may need to catch up and get these vaccines now.

There are also diseases that are more common in adults, even healthy adults. This is why additional vaccines are needed as we get older.

By keeping up to date with vaccines, adults can prevent the spread of disease to those who may be more likely to contract them. These include:

  • babies and young children;
  • pregnant women; and
  • people with certain medical conditions such as those who have weakened immunity.

This is known as community immunity or herd immunity. Many Canadian adults are not up to date with their vaccines. Talk to your healthcare provider to see what you need to do to be fully protected.

Vaccine Schedule for Adults

Unless contraindicated, it is recommended that adults get vaccinated for common diseases at certain stages of life:

  • Diphtheria and Tetanus – every 10 years
  • Herpes Zoster (Shingles) – one dose at 60+ years (may be given between 50 and 59 years)
  • Influenza (Flu) – every year
  • Pertussis (Whooping Cough) – one dose as an adult and during each pregnancy
  • Pneumococcal – one dose at 65+ years

Adults may also want to consider being vaccinated for the following diseases if medically appropriate:

  • Hepatitis A – one dose*
  • Hepatitis B – one dose*
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – one dose at 26 years of age or younger*
  • Measles, Mumps and Rubella – one dose*
  • Meningococcal (Meningitis) – one dose at 24 years of age or younger*
  • Varicella (Chicken Pox) – one dose*

* multiple doses may be required

Not everyone is the same. You may need more or fewer vaccines depending on your medical history and risks. Talk to your healthcare provider about the right vaccines for you.

Vaccines for Adults 60 Years of Age and Older

As we get older, our immune system can get weaker. This puts us at a greater risk for certain diseases, including influenza. The flu is more likely to cause severe illness and even death in older adults. Other vaccine-preventable diseases such as herpes zoster (shingles) and pneumococcal disease are more common with age.