Adult immunization schedule updated as vaccination rates lag


Former Executive Editor, Harvard Health

To get or stay healthy, many people focus on exercising more, eating better, or quitting smoking. Getting recommended vaccinations is another relatively simple strategy for health that an alarming number of Americans overlook.

Vaccination isn’t just for kids. Adults should get immunized against infectious agents that cause the flu, pneumonia, whooping cough (pertussis), shingles (herpes zoster), and more. The latest schedule for adult immunization has been published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Each year, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP) reviews and updates the schedule. This year’s version includes a few changes from 2012. The ACIP now recommends that people with compromised immune systems get a second anti-pneumonia vaccine. It also says that all adults age 65 and older should get the tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine, as should pregnant women with each pregnancy. The table below lists the main overview. There are three-plus pages of footnotes and explanations, so check with your doctor to see which immunizations you may need.

(A larger printable version of the table along with the full ACIP recommendations are available for free from the Annals of Internal Medicine.)


When it comes to adult immunization, Americans aren’t doing very well. (Children’s immunization is no better — we’ll take that up later.) “Too few adults are taking advantage of the protection from vaccines, leaving themselves and those around them at greater risk of vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Dr. Howard Koh, formerly professor of public health at Harvard School of Public Health and now the assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention news conference about adult vaccination rates.

A new report from the CDC using 2011 vaccination data detailed the shortfalls:

  • 66.5% of Americans 65 years and older got the pneumococcal vaccine
  • 12.5% got the Tdap vaccine
  • 16% got the shingles vaccine
  • 36% got the  hepatitis A or B vaccine

Low rates of Tdap vaccination could be one reason for the rise in whooping cough. In 2012, there were 42,000 cases of whooping cough in the United States, more than 9,000 of them in adults. “That’s the highest number that we have seen in this country in a single year since 1955,” said Koh. Many youngsters get the disease, which killed 18 children last year, from an adult.

In addition to protecting yourself from an infectious disease, immunization also protects others, including those who can’t get vaccinated for medical reasons or those who choose not to. If you aren’t carrying an infectious agent, you can’t spread it to a family member, friend, coworker, or fellow subway rider. Immunization also contributes to what’s called herd immunity. The more people who are immunized, the smaller the odds that someone who isn’t immunized or resistant will come into contact with the infectious agent. You can see a video of how herd immunity works on the Harvard Health website.


  1. sungusary

    This honestly answered my predicament, thank you!

  2. healthcare

    People should understand that vaccines are not only for children and adults should take required vaccinations at the right time.

  3. Anonymous

    This blog have given good information regarding the adult vaccination as it become really important now a days.

  4. muscle confusion

    Great Article. It made me know more how to take care our children.
    Thanks for sharing this good information.

  5. mabia

    I’m a medical assisting student. I’m taking my 10 finals this week and my certification exam
    will probably be in August. I have been assigned to a cardiologists office for my externship
    which will start in two weeks. I appreciate reading about your experience. It sounds like this
    will be challenging but also very rewarding for the patients and for myself. I look forward
    to getting out there and gaining my own experience.

  6. muscle confusion

    Excellent article. Thanks for sharing this tips to take care our children.

  7. Michelle Ford

    Vaccination–beneficial for getting or staying healthy? Coming from the perspective of a degreed social worker and a former public substitue teacher who has given thought and attention to study the ‘un’-healthy and disconcerting increase in numerous physical as well as behavioral health problems in children. Just off the top of my head, I’ll throw out the alarming, dare I say unrecognized ‘epidemic’ of autism that seems to be an out-of-control ‘contagion’ in the United States and only expected to increase at alarming rates. Who’s sounding the alarm? People everywhere. Who’s responding to that alarm? Noone in the CDC or pharma industry, except when it comes to mass producing more meds to treat such increasingly diagnosed conditions such as ADD, ADHD, asthma, allergies, autoimmune disorders, increased rates and cases of childhood diabetes, and the list goes on. As for increasing vaccination among adults, oh, why not? Why not turn a profit on vaccines, whose (meaning corporate personhood) manufacturers have no legal liability if and when injury occurs in a human being. Federal law gave a friendly head-nod to vaccine manufacturers when in the 1980’s the U.S. govt. passed into law a protection for vaccine makers if/when vaccines caused injury or death. No thanks, I say, to the impetus on increasing vaccination coverage rates for children or adults. Now…the diet and exercise mentioned in this article could be of benefit to many, and, therefore, garners my approval.

  8. American Behavioral Clinics

    It’s really hard to know with the research out there whether these vaccines are truly beneficial for you, or if they cause harmful effects that you otherwise wouldn’t have experienced. Tough decision.

  9. Lowell

    1. What really is mind goggling is that the public is or would be this health doesn’t come from a toxic and contaminated vaccine and its needle, ignorant.

    2. What is even more mind boggling is the amount of profit that pharma is making from these additional adult vaccines.

    3. If you have lived and survived for 65 years with few to no vaccines before in your adult life, what in the rational thinking mindset would cause you to think that all of a sudden you would need such as a Tdap vaccine? JUST LOOK at that the INSANITY of this schedule of ENDLESS adult vaccines. And they even state that a (Tdap) vaccine, should be recieved by all pregnant women with each pregnancy, plus the flu shot, (with thimerosal of course, with no advisement against it)

    These vaccine recommendations are sick! For profit don’t give a damn how much harm they do, idiots. You people are as a fact complete blithering IDIOTS! Haven’t you done enough harm to the infants and children, without now going after the adults and pregnant women?

    Editor of:


  10. Bintang

    nice articles, and very benefit for my son. thank’s

  11. Shawn Siegel

    Oh my God, it’s about time! The proof is in the pudding, is it not?, and the 225 million or so adult Americans who received only a few vaccines as children have been dropping in the streets like flies these last four decades, from measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, and all those other horrible, virtually always fatal diseases. I don’t know about your city, but the sanitation crews in Austin have simply been kept exhausted. They’ll appreciate the new recommendations. Thanks so much, CDC, for the new… effort.

    I do have a question, though. Why is it that you seem to write off vaccines as even a possible cause of the runaway autism we’re experiencing? I mean, if the current rate of annual increase continues unabated, every boy in the nation will be on the spectrum by 2032, and every girl by 2040 – fairly problematic. Surely it’s not because of those coupla dozen studies mentioned by Dr. Boyle at the recent Congressional hearing, considering that it was pointed out by a Representative at the hearing that Poul Thorsen, currently the most wanted medical criminal in the world, was involved in virtually all of them – which fact I’m sure humbled the good doctor, who had only a short while before testified under oath that he was only involved in two. Anyway, times a-wastin’. Half the boys will be on the spectrum by 2027.

    Say, I have an idea! Why not implement a study of the medical histories of the million or so unvaccinated kids in the country, to see what is the incidence of ASD diagnosis? If there is a marked difference between the rate of ASD’s when compared with the general population, why, then we have a firm direction for research. After all, they’re unvaccinated by choice, so there’s no question of medical ethics – unless, of course you don’t implement the study.

    • Susan Collier

      Thanks for sharing that one Shawn! It was very enlightening. I wish more sheeple would wake up to those facts!!!

      • Shawn Siegel

        Dissemination of the truth, Susan, is the only weapon we have at the moment against those entities that are supposed to be the guardians of the nation’s health, but obviously have a different agenda.

  12. mytwocentsworthfornow

    shingles (herpes zoster -is NOT an infectious disease! One cannot catch a case of shingles. Much of the whooping cough that is about is a vaccine strain happening more in vaccinated children then not vaccinated. If you are going to write an article it would be ethical to do it honestly.

  13. Nicole

    Thank you for sharing. All too often we only think of immunizing our children that we forget to take care of our own. If we are not healthy how can we properly care for those who are important to us.


    • Shawn Siegel

      But vaccination isn’t immunization, Nicole. It introduces potentially infectious microbes and accompanying immune system exciters through the back door, if you will – the limbs – precluding a full immune response, which is elicited by natural introduction, which is primarily through ingestion or inhalation, and, secondarily, through skin contact. The bulk of the infectious disease immune system is located in the gut and the respiratory tract. The artificial stimulation of the immune system through a totally unnatural route triggers reactions to microbes and chemicals to which it otherwise would not react, breeding autoimmunity. In a very real sense, vaccination is autoimmunization.

      Adjuvants, such as are used in vaccines to excite the immune system, are literally used by researchers when they want to study autoimmunity, because they trigger rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases when injected into lab animals. The fact that we inject these into infants, babies and toddlers, starting on the day of birth, is actually quite cruel. The autoimmune diseases that result are, among others, asthma, diabetes and arthritis – all those ailments virtually epidemic in our kids, that in the past were reserved for mature adults and the elderly.

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