Harvard Health Letter

In brief: The shoulds - and the shouldn'ts - of getting your shots

In brief

The shoulds — and the shouldn'ts — of getting your shots

Vaccination used to seem simple and straightforward: the annual flu shot, the tetanus booster, a few others. Besides, vaccines were mainly for kids.

Now, like everything else, vaccination has gotten a great deal more complicated. The number of FDA-approved vaccines has grown from nine in 1980 to an unwieldy 17. A dozen of them are on the adult schedule, although several (the hepatitis A and B vaccines, for example) are reserved for high-risk groups.

American vaccine policy is set by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a group appointed by the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. The committee's recommendations usually become the official policy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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