August is National Immunization Awareness Month, an annual observance highlighting the importance of vaccination for people of all ages.
Life has been anything but routine lately. A sometimes overlooked result of the COVID-19 pandemic is that many people have missed routine medical checkups, routine screenings, and recommended vaccinations.
Vaccines aren’t just for children. Adults need them to avoid getting and spreading certain serious diseases that can result in missed work, medical bills, and problems taking care of others, as well as serious illness, or even death.(1)
Vaccines for adults are recommended based on different factors like a person’s age, health, lifestyle, jobs, and travel. All adults need:
Flu vaccine. An annual flu vaccine is recommended for everyone but is especially important for adults with certain chronic health conditions, pregnant people, and those who are 65 years and older.
Tdap vaccine: If they have never gotten one before, a Tdap vaccine helps protect against pertussis (whooping cough). Pregnant people should get a Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks.
Td vaccine:(tetanus, diphtheria) or Tdap shot every 10 years.(1)
Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23): If they are 65 years and older or 19–64 years old and have certain health conditions or smoke cigarettes. In addition, adults 65 years and older may discuss and decide, with their clinician, to receive a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13). Pneumococcal vaccines help protect against serious illnesses like meningitis, bloodstream infections, and pneumonia.
Shingles vaccine: Two doses of shingles vaccine for everyone 50 years of age and older. Your risk of shingles and complications increases as you age. Shingles vaccine provides strong protection from shingles and long-term nerve pain.
HPV vaccine: HPV vaccination is also recommended through age 26, if they did not get vaccinated when they were younger. For adults aged 27 years and older, talk with your doctor about HPV vaccine.
COVID-19 vaccine: CDC recommends vaccination for all adults and children of certain ages.(2)
Take this quiz to find out what other vaccines may be recommended for you. Then talk with your doctor to make sure you get the vaccines that are right for you. Some adults with specific health conditions should not get certain vaccines or should wait to get them.(1)
Staying up to date on vaccinations helps protect you and others in your family and community. Every year, tens of thousands of Americans get sick and some die from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines.(3)
Today, people move, travel, and change healthcare providers often. This can make it hard to keep an accurate vaccination record. If you don’t have copies of your vaccination records, ask for help from:
Your current or previous doctor or medical provider
Your parents or caregivers
Your high school or college health services group
Previous employers (including the military) that may have required vaccinations
Your state health department to see if they can direct you to their immunization registry
It’s a good idea to try and keep track of your own vaccinations. Ask your doctor, pharmacist, or vaccination provider for a vaccination record form or download one. Take it with you to health visits. Ask your vaccination provider to sign and date the form for each vaccine you receive.(4)
After getting a COVID-19 vaccine, you should get a small, white card with information about which vaccine you received, when you received it, and where you received it. This card is a vaccination record.(5). As such, it is important that you take steps to check and protect it:
Check your card to make sure everything is correct.
Take a picture of the front and back of the card with your cellphone or a camera.
Use plastic envelopes for vaccine cards. Lamination is not recommended in case future shots are recommended. A photocopy can be laminated.
Store your card in a secure, fireproof, and water-resistant bin or safe.
Vaccination records are examples of important paperwork that you need to collect and protect. Keeping a record and storing it in a safe place can save you time and unnecessary hassle later.
The term “important paperwork” applies to any documents and personal data that you might need in an emergency or disaster.
What to collect
Personal identification, such as a driver’s license, passports, and social security card
Health insurance cards
Vital records, such as a birth certificate
Medical and veterinary records
Personal care plans, such as emergency care plans for children with special health care needs
How to protect
Once you’ve collected your important paperwork, take steps to proofread and protect it. Store paperwork someplace that is a) easily accessible and b) safe from theft, fire, flood, and other emergencies.
Some ways to keep your important paperwork safe and secure include:
Scanning or saving to your computer important paperwork and personal items, like family photos. Creating digital duplicates of originals makes it easier to share the information, helps preserve the original, and serves as a backup in case the original is destroyed
Storing external drives and hardcopies of important papers in a fireproof and water-resistant file organizer, container, or storage bag with a trusted friend or relative or in a safety deposit box
Telling family members, friends, or trusted neighbors where you keep your important paperwork
Learn more ways to prepare your health for emergencies.
Thanks in advance for your questions and comments on this Public Health Matters post. Please note that the CDC does not give personal medical advice. If you are concerned you have a disease or condition, talk to your doctor.
Have a question for CDC? CDC-INFO (http://www.cdc.gov/cdc-info/index.html) offers live agents by phone and email to help you find the latest, reliable, and science-based health information on more than 750 health topics.