Reducing Your Health Risks with Vaccines

Vaccines are one of the best ways to reduce your risk of illness. Vaccines are an effective way to prevent disease so you can be active in life, work, and family time. A lot of research has gone into making vaccines that help prevent disease in the easiest way possible. Vaccines are quick and will fit into even a busy schedule.

Who needs vaccines?

All adults need vaccines. The types you need may depend on your age, health history, or where you work or travel. But vaccines help reduce your risk of illness no matter what.

How can vaccines help me?

Vaccines can help you:

  • Stay healthy and active

  • Prevent serious complications and even death from certain infections

  • Be less likely to pass on infections to your close contacts

  • Worry less about your risk for infections

  • Not miss work or school because of sick time

  • Save money on medical costs from illness

  • Take care of your family

  • Reduce your risk of getting sick when traveling

  • Spend more time just enjoying the good things in life

How do vaccines work?

Vaccines tell your own immune system how to prevent certain kinds of disease. A vaccine uses a tiny amount of substance that lets your body build up antibodies and other defenses to a virus or bacteria. This helps to prevent or lessen the severity of many types of diseases caused by infection.

A vaccine is most often done with an injection by a small needle into your arm. Some vaccines work in 1 shot. Others need to be done in 2 or more shots over a period of time. This lets your immune system build up the right amount of defenses.

Combination vaccines can help prevent more diseases with fewer shots. These vaccines have more than one type of prevention in a single dose.

What vaccines do I need?

There are various vaccines that help protect adults from serious disease. What you need may depend on your age and health history. These include vaccines to prevent shingles, HPV, meningitis, and pneumonia. Other vaccines are important for all adults. These include vaccines for tetanus and the flu. Vaccines to prevent COVID-19 will likely be important for all adults to take. But they will be especially for those at higher risk for the infection or its complications. You may need other vaccines if you’re planning to travel or if you work in certain settings. Your healthcare provider will talk with you about your health history and tell you which ones you need to get up to date.

Do I need the yearly flu vaccine?

Yes—all adults benefit from the yearly flu vaccine. This vaccine reduces your risk of getting the flu and complications from the flu. It’s best to get it before the end of October each year.

Where can I get vaccines?

There are many places you can get vaccines. You can often choose where is easiest for you. In some cases, you may need to schedule in advance to make sure there is a vaccine ready for you. You can get vaccines at places like:

  • Your healthcare provider’s office

  • Your local pharmacy

  • On-site flu shots at your workplace

  • Local vaccine clinics or hospitals

  • Your senior living community or assisted living

It's never too late

If you’re worried that you have missed some vaccines, it’s not too late. Your healthcare provider can make sure you easily get up to date on your vaccines.

Healthy people still need vaccines

Vaccines are the easiest way to reduce risk of serious illness, even in very healthy people.

If you have questions

The best person to talk to is your healthcare provider. He or she can tell you why and how vaccines can help keep you healthy, and recommend which ones you need.

Online Medical Reviewer: Barry Zingman, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson, RN, MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 10/1/2020
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