Advance with MUSC Health

World Immunization Week: Which Vaccines to Get From Birth Through Adulthood April 24-30

Sean Haley, M.D.
April 06, 2022
Sean Haley, M.D., MPH

The World Health Organization recognizes World Immunization Week each year to promote vaccines’ effectiveness in protecting people of all ages against disease. Immunization saves lives and has historically been the key to preventing past infectious diseases from harming future generations.

Perhaps it’s time to check in with a primary care provider and make sure you’re up to date and doing all you can to protect yourself, your family, and your community against vaccine-preventable diseases. Will you do your part for the sake of future generations to eradicate the diseases of our time? Here’s a quick selection of just a few vaccines that should be on your to-do list from birth through adulthood.

Newborns should receive the first of three doses of the vaccine that protects against Hepatitis B, which can cause lifelong liver complications. Infants and kids are more likely than adults to develop an incurable infection and, subsequently, liver damage and liver cancer.

1 to 4 Months
From one to two months, it’s time for that next dose of the Hepatitis B vaccine. From one through six months, the CDC also recommends vaccines to develop immunity against diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough, as well as Haemophilus influenzae type b, polio, pneumococcal, and rotavirus.

6 Months
By six months, it’s recommended to begin flu shots, repeating every flu season; plus, don’t forget about: diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough, as well as Haemophilus influenzae type b, polio, pneumococcal, and rotavirus.

12 to 23 months
By two years of age, children should be protected against 14 vaccine-preventable diseases! From 12 to 23 months, these vaccines are recommended: chickenpox, measles, hepatitis A and B, diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough, Haemophilus influenzae type b, polio, pneumococcal, and rotavirus.

2 to 3 Years
In addition to the flu vaccine every year, a visit to the child’s primary care doctor once a year is recommended.

4 to 6 Years
While continuing annual checkups, these vaccines should be received: diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough vaccine, as well as polio, measles, chickenpox, and flu.

7 to 10 Years
During this period, stay up to date on flu vaccines and yearly wellness visits.

11 to 12 Years
When it comes to preteens, these four vaccines should be received: meningococcal conjugate vaccine, HPV vaccine, Tdap, and flu.

13 to 18 Years
The teen years are an important time to continue getting once-a-year checkups in addition to a flu shot every season. It’s also a good time to consider any vaccines required for possible travel.

19 to 26 Years
Now is the time to revisit the HPV vaccine, which protects against the human papillomaviruses, which can cause most cervical, anal, and other cancers, as well as genital warts, if you weren’t vaccinated at a younger age. If you missed it at 11 or 12, it’s recommended through age 26.

In addition, you should also receive the flu vaccine and Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis).

27 to 60 Years
As adults age, it’s increasingly important to receive the seasonal flu vaccine, especially for people with chronic health conditions, pregnant women, and older adults. In addition, adults should get the Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough) at least once if it wasn’t received at a younger age and a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every decade from here on out. We recommend that women get the Tdap vaccine if (and every time) they’re pregnant, preferably between 27 and 36 weeks.

Healthy adults 50 and older should protect themselves against shingles (and complications from the disease) by getting the zoster vaccine. All should continue with regular primary care checkups to ensure that any school or job-related vaccines are in place.

60 Years or Older
At this age, continue to get the flu shot, the Td vaccine, and the zoster vaccine.

From age 65, it’s crucial to get the pneumococcal vaccines, which can protect against pneumococcal infections in the lungs and bloodstream. Adults younger than 65 who have certain chronic health conditions should also get this vaccine.

Worried that you’re not up to date? Schedule an appointment with a primary care provider today.

Established patients can make an appointment online through MyChart. New patients please call 843-792-7000 to schedule.

Sean Haley, M.D. MPH, is a family medicine physician specializing in full-spectrum care and public health. He is based at MUSC Health University Family Medicine - Peninsula in Charleston.