Immunizations can protect you at every stage of life

[4 MIN READ]

In this article:

  • World Immunization Week is April 25-May 2. Are you and your family caught up on your vaccines?

  • Vaccines help protect people of all ages from life-threatening diseases, such as measles, polio and COVID-19.

  • Your primary care provider can help you and your family know what vaccines you need and how to stay on schedule.

Vaccines teach your body’s immune system to recognize and defend against viruses and bacteria that cause infectious diseases. They protect you and the people around you by slowing down or even stopping the spread of disease. Experts estimate that vaccines (sometimes called immunizations) help prevent almost six million deaths worldwide every year.

The World Health Organization has declared April 25-May 2 as World Immunization Week 2022 to raise awareness about the importance of vaccines. Take a few minutes to learn about this important topic and talk to your doctor if you have questions or need to “catch up” on your shots.

Learn about vaccines.

Immunizations for children

Babies and young children need to be vaccinated according to a schedule to gain maximum protection from infectious illnesses. The most common childhood vaccines include:

Children who stay on schedule with these vaccines complete their shots (more or less) by the age of six. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and pediatricians also recommend other vaccines throughout childhood, including during the teen years.

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Getting children caught up on their shots

About four in 10 families reported falling behind on their child’s shots in 2020 due to the pandemic. Many remain off schedule. The good news is that catching up is not difficult. In fact, you may be able to do it in a single visit to the pediatrician’s office.

If a lack of health insurance or concerns about healthcare costs prevent you from getting your child caught up, know that free or low-cost vaccines are available. Look at your county health department’s website to see where they offer no-cost vaccines. The federal government’s Vaccines for Children Program is another helpful resource.

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Vaccines during pregnancy

Pregnant women should get a Tdap vaccine and a flu shot during each pregnancy. The Tdap vaccine is critical because it protects against whooping cough, which can be life-threatening in infants. Infants can’t receive the Tdap vaccine until they are at least two months old.

The CDC also recommends pregnant women be immunized against COVID-19. Depending on a woman’s health history and travel plans, they may need other vaccines as well.

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Immunizations for adults

Vaccinations aren’t just for kids and pregnant women! Adults ages 19 and older need to get their shots, too. The body’s immune system becomes less efficient as we age, particularly in our later years.

Vaccines are available to adults for a wide range of conditions. With few exceptions, all adults should get the following vaccines:

Based on their health and immunization history, some adults should be vaccinated against hepatitis A and hepatitis B, too.

Learn more.

Immunizations that help prevent cancer

Nearly all cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a common infection spread through sexual contact that can lead to cancer or genital warts. HPV vaccinations offer protection against this infection.

The American Cancer Society recommends that boys and girls get the HPV vaccine between the ages of 9 and 12. Teens and young adults through age 26 who are not already vaccinated should get the HPV vaccine as soon as possible.

Another vaccine that reduces a person’s cancer risk offers protection against the hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis B causes liver disease that can be mild or become a serious, long-term condition leading to liver cancer. The HBV vaccine is available for all age groups.

And don’t forget the COVID-19 vaccine!

COVID-19 vaccines can help protect you from getting seriously ill, being hospitalized or dying from the disease. Everyone five years and older is now eligible to get a free COVID-19 vaccination. To find COVID-19 vaccine locations near you, search vaccines.gov, text your zip code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233.

Read more.

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Related resources

Stay up to date with critical vaccines

Keep kids healthy, safe with recommended vaccines

Stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines and news

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional’s instructions.

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