Harvard Women's Health Watch

Keeping up with your vaccinations

New guidelines include several changes.

If you've seen a clinician in the past few months, you were probably reminded to get a flu shot. You should be vaccinated against the flu every year because the viruses that cause influenza — and the vaccines that protect you from those viruses — change from year to year. But there's more to staying current with your vaccinations than that.

For one thing, you can't assume that the vaccines you received as a child will protect you for the rest of your life. Some childhood immunizations require a periodic booster shot. Work, travel, and changing personal circumstances can expose you to unusual infectious diseases. In addition, overall immunity can fade with age, increasing your susceptibility to serious disease caused by common infections. Moreover, from time to time, there are new vaccines — and new recommendations for receiving older vaccines.

Every year, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) reviews and, if necessary, changes its Adult Immunization Schedule. The 2011 schedule was approved in October 2010 and published in the Feb. 1, 2011, issue of Annals of Internal Medicine. No new vaccines have been added, but the ACIP has recommended some changes. Here's a quick summary:

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