Vaccinations - Adult 

Updated: Feb 09, 2018
  • Author: Abimbola Farinde, PharmD, PhD; Chief Editor: Mary L Windle, PharmD  more...
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Vaccinations in Adults

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) annually reviews the recommended adult immunization schedule to ensure that the schedule reflects current recommendations for the licensed vaccine. Vaccines are recommended for adults on the basis of their age, prior vaccinations, health conditions, lifestyle, occupation, and travel. [1]

Vaccines recommended for routine immunization are discussed below. Note that the following vaccines also may be recommended for additional age groups depending on risk factors.

For the CDC’s current specific vaccination recommendations by vaccine and age group, recommendations based on medical and other indications, and contraindications and precautions, please refer to the CDC’s Adult Immunization Schedules. [1]

Influenza - 1 dose annually

Various influenza vaccines have been approved that are directed toward patients with egg allergy (eg, Flucelvax, Flublok) and for elderly adults to provide a stronger immune response (eg, Fluzone High-Dose, Fluad).

Adults with a history of egg allergy who have only hives after exposure to egg should receive age-appropriate inactivated influenza (IIV) or recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV). Adults with a history of egg allergy with symptoms other than hives (eg, angioedema, respiratory distress, lightheadedness, recurrent emesis, or who required epinephrine or other emergency intervention) may receive age-appropriate IIV or RIV. The selected vaccine should be administered in an inpatient or outpatient medical setting and supervised by a healthcare provider who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic conditions. [2]

In June 2016, the CDC’s ACIP voted that live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) (FluMist Quadrivalent) should not be used during the 2016-2017 flu season. This ACIP vote was based on data showing poor or relatively lower effectiveness of LAIV from 2013 through 2016. In late May 2016, preliminary data on the effectiveness of LAIV among children aged 2-17 years during the 2015-2016 season became available from the US Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness (VE) Network. The LAIV VE among study participants in that age group against any flu virus was 3% (95% confidence interval [CI], -49% to 37%). In comparison, IIV (flu shots) had a VE estimate of 63% (95% CI, 52-72%) against any flu virus among children aged 2-17 years. [3] The recommendation not to use LAIV continues for the 2017-2018 season. [4]

Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis - Every 10 years

Varicella - 2 doses for adults without evidence of immunity

Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)  - One or two doses should be documented for adults born after 1957 [1]

Adults aged 19-59 years: 0.5 mL SC; administer a second dose 28 days later for high-risk adults

Adults aged 50 years or older: 0.5 mL SC; administer one dose only

Additional dose during mumps outbreak: During an outbreak, persons identified as being at increased risk who have received two or fewer 2 doses of mumps virus–containing vaccine or have unknown vaccination status should receive one dose [1, 5]

Human papillomavirus (HPV) - 3 doses for adolescents and young adults aged 15-26 years if a complete immunization series was not completed during childhood (ie, aged 9-14 years)

Zoster - Two doses of recombinant zoster vaccine (RZV) (preferred) or one dose of zoster vaccine live (ZVL)

ACIP recommendations [1, 6] :

Administer two doses of RZV (Shingrix) 2-6 months apart to adults aged 50 years or older regardless of past episode of herpes zoster or receipt of ZVL (Zostavax)

Administer two doses of RZV 2-6 months apart to adults who previously received ZVL at least 2 months after ZVL

For adults aged 60 years or older, administer either RZV or ZVL (RZV is preferred)


Immunocompetent adults aged 65 years or older should receive 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) followed by 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) at least 1 year after PCV13. An additional 1 or 2 doses of PPSV23 may be indicated for certain individuals (eg, chronic heart disease, immunocompromising conditions, anatomical or functional asplenia, cerebrospinal fluid leak, cochlear implant).

If PPSV23 has previously been administered, PCV13 should be administered at least 1 year after PPSV23. When two or more doses of PPSV23 are indicated, the interval between PPSV23 doses should be at least 5 years.

No additional doses of PPSV23 are indicated for adults who received PPSV23 at age 65 years or older. When indicated, PCV13 and PPSV23 should be administered to adults whose pneumococcal vaccination history is incomplete or unknown. [1]

Additional vaccines that may be recommended in adults depending on risk factors and vaccination history

Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib)


Hepatitis A and B