Immunizations aren’t just for kids. As an adult, you need to make sure that you are current with all the appropriate immunizations. Recent outbreaks of measles, mumps and whooping cough (pertussis) put everyone who isn't vaccinated at risk.
Check your health history to see if you are missing any of the immunizations you should have received during childhood. Some vaccines may not have been available when you were a child.
Your primary care physician can help you determine what you need. If you do not have a primary care physician, call 414-805-3666 or 800-DOCTORS. You can also view video profiles of primary care physicians.
Vaccinations are also available at many of our pharmacy locations. Learn more.
Stay Current to Stay Healthy
All adults need to get regular vaccinations to stay healthy.
- Flu vaccine — While it may seem benign, influenza (the flu) can be very serious — resulting in many hospitalizations and fatalities every year. Getting your annual flu shot is the best and easiest way to avoid serious illness.
- Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) — Most people in the U.S. received two doses of the MMR vaccine as children. If you are unsure if you were immunized as a child, please contact your primary care provider to check your records and to see if you should receive a booster.
- Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough) — Any open wound can lead to tetanus, and recent whooping cough outbreaks have put adults and newborns at risk. Adolescents and adults should receive a one-time booster dose of Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) vaccine. This can be given in place of one of the Td (tetanus diphtheria) boosters recommended every 10 years. It should be given earlier, without regard to timing of the last Td booster, for adults 65 and over who are in close contact with children less than one year of age.
Immunizations for Older Adults
In addition to tetanus and flu, older adults should receive the following vaccines.
- Pneumonia — Common infections, such as bronchitis or influenza, can develop into pneumonia. If you have never received any pneumonia vaccines since turning 65, then you should receive either 1 dose of pneumonia vaccine (PCV20) or 2 doses of pneumonia vaccines (PCV15 followed by PPSV23 1 year later). If you have received pneumonia vaccine(s) already, please check with your primary care physician or pharmacist to see what is most appropriate for you.
- Shingles — At age 50, you should get a vaccination series to protect yourself from this painful virus.
Adults With Chronic Conditions
Some chronic conditions and lifestyle choices can put you at risk for illness or can lower your immunity. Talk to your primary care physician or specialist about any additional vaccinations or boosters you may need, such as pneumonia or hepatitis.
Check Your Childhood Vaccination Record
In light of recent communicable disease outbreaks, it is recommended you make sure you had all of the immunizations and boosters you should have had as a child. Talk with your primary care physician to make sure you are properly immunized. In some cases, your physician may recommend you be immunized or receive a booster.
Childhood immunizations that adults can receive include:
- Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis A
- Haemophilus Influenzae (b)
- Varicella (chicken pox)
- Pneumococcal vaccines – PCV13 and PPSV23
- Meningococcal vaccine
- Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis — Tdap (once) and Td (every 10 years)
- HPV — A three-dose series of vaccines is recommended for males through age 21 and females through age 26.
Finding Your Vaccination Records
Unfortunately, there is no national organization that maintains vaccination records. The CDC does not have this information. The records that exist are the ones you or your parents were given when the vaccines were administered and/or the ones in the medical record of the doctor or clinic where the vaccines were given. If you need official copies of vaccination records, or if you need to update your personal records, there are several places you can look:
- Ask your parents or other caregivers if they have records of your childhood immunizations.
- Try looking through baby books or other saved documents from your childhood.
- Check with your high school and/or college health services for dates of any immunizations (keep in mind that generally records are kept only for one to two years after students leave the system).
- Check with previous employers (including the military) that may have required immunizations.
- Check with your doctor or public health clinic (keep in mind that vaccination records are maintained at doctors’ offices for a limited number of years).
- Contact your state’s health department — Some states have registries (Immunization Information Systems) that include adult vaccines. Check the Wisconsin Immunization Registry.
Visit our Travel Medicine Clinics to determine what immunizations you need before you travel.