Get Shots to Protect Your Health (Adults Age 50 or Older)

The Basics

The Basics: Overview

Older adults need to get shots (vaccines) to prevent serious diseases. Protect your health by getting all your shots on schedule.

If you are age 50 or older:

If you are age 65 or older:

  • Get shots to prevent pneumococcal ("noo-muh-KOK-uhl") disease. Pneumococcal disease can include pneumonia (“noo-MOHN-yah”), meningitis, and blood infections. Learn about pneumococcal shots.

It’s also important for all adults to:

  • Get a flu vaccine every year. The seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others from the flu.
  • Get the Tdap shot to protect against tetanus (“TET-nes”), diphtheria (“dif-THEER-ee-ah”), and whooping cough (pertussis). Everyone needs to get the Tdap shot once. Learn about the Tdap shot.
  • After you get a Tdap shot, get a Td shot every 10 years to keep you protected against tetanus and diphtheria. Learn about Td shots.

Ask your doctor or nurse about other shots you may need to stay healthy.

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The Basics: Health Benefits

Why do I need to get these shots?

Shots help protect you against diseases that can be serious and sometimes deadly. Many of these diseases are common.

Even if you have always gotten your shots on schedule, you still need to get some shots as an older adult. This is because:

  • Older adults are more likely to get certain diseases.
  • Older adults are more at risk for serious complications from infections.
  • The protection from some shots can wear off over time.

Getting your shots also protects other people.

When you get shots, you don’t just protect yourself – you also protect others. This is especially important if you spend time around anyone with a long-term health problem or a weak immune system (the system in the body that fights infections).

Protect yourself and those around you by staying up to date on your shots. Find out how getting your shots helps protect people in your community.

Learn more about some of the recommended shots for adults by watching these short videos:

Watch these short videos to learn more about:

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The Basics: Other Shots

Do I need any other shots to help me stay healthy?

You may need other shots if you:

  • Didn’t get all of your shots when you were a child
  • Have a health condition that weakens your immune system (like cancer or HIV)
  • Have a chronic (long-term) health problem like diabetes or heart, lung, or liver disease
  • Are a man who has sex with men
  • Smoke
  • Spend time with infants or young children
  • Work or spend time in a school, hospital, prison, or health clinic
  • Travel outside the United States

Ask your doctor or nurse if you need any other shots. You can also take this quiz to find out which shots you may need.

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Take Action!

Take Action: Make a Plan

Talk with a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about getting up to date on your shots.

Make a plan to get your shots.

Schedule an appointment with your doctor or nurse to get the shots you need. You may also be able to get shots at your local pharmacy.

Use this vaccine clinic locator to find out where you can get shots.

Get a seasonal flu shot every year.

Remember, everyone age 6 months and older needs to get the seasonal flu vaccine every year.

What about cost?

Under the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010, most private insurance plans must cover recommended shots for adults. Depending on your insurance plan, you may be able to get your shots at no cost to you.

Medicare also covers most recommended shots for older adults, depending on your plan. Use this tool to see what Medicare covers.

If you don’t have insurance, you still may be able to get free shots.

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Take Action: Keep a Record

Keep a copy of your vaccination record.

Ask your doctor to print out a record of all the shots you've had. Keep this record in a safe place. You may need it for certain jobs or if you travel outside the United States.

If you aren’t sure which shots you’ve had, try these tips for finding old vaccination records. If you still can’t find a record of your shots, talk with your doctor about getting some shots again.

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