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Your Vaccine Checklist for Every Age

Staying up to date on your shots may play a crucial role in your body’s response to COVID-19.
Doctor disinfects skin of patient before vaccination

As COVID-19 continues to ravage the world, scientists are scurrying to develop and test an effective vaccine to protect against the incredibly infectious and deadly virus. Unfortunately, the world will have to wait until at least early 2021 before the much-needed immunization is ready for public use.

However, in the meantime it is more important than ever to stay up-to-date with all of your other vaccines, as immunity can be key in the battle against the novel coronavirus. 

Related: Don't miss these 50 Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Why Vaccines Are So Important During the Coronavirus Pandemic

"While it can be hard to think about preventive healthcare while we're all focused on waging war against a pandemic, it is important to stay up to date on your regular vaccines," explains Jaimie Meyer, MD, a Yale Medicine infectious disease specialist and assistant professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine.   

"Vaccines play a critical role in keeping us healthy, and especially today with COVID-19," adds Dr. Jill Grimes, MD, Board-Certified Family Physician at UT Austin's Student Health Services, and author of The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook: Your Guide for Everything from Hangovers to Homesickness, out this May.

While vaccines for measles, influenza, or other conditions won't protect you from getting COVID-19, they may prevent you from developing measles, influenza, or other conditions that require healthcare, points out Dr. Meyer. 

"We especially want to prevent any respiratory infectious disease, because illnesses—like the flu will—break down our body's natural defenses, and therefore make us more likely to also catch COVID," Dr. Grimes adds. 

Which is especially important now, per Dr. Meyer, "because the healthcare system is already overtaxed caring for patients with COVID-19."

Related: Don't miss these 40 Things You Should Never Touch Due to Coronavirus.

So Which Vaccines Are Most Important?

So which vaccines are the most important in the age of novel coronavirus. "Those vaccines playing the biggest roles here would be influenza, measles (which can cause pneumonia in addition to the classic rash and fever), hib (H. Influenza type B—not the regular flu, this one causes ear, upper respiratory, pneumonia and meningitis infections), varicella (chicken pox, like measles, can cause a serious pneumonia) and not surprisingly, the pneumonia (pneumococcal) vaccine," says Dr. Grimes. 

Not sure if you are up-to-date with your vaccines? Here is a checklist with all the vaccinations recommended by the CDC for every age:

Birth

During the first fews days of a baby's life, they should receive the first 3 doses of the Hepatitis B vaccine. "Hepatitis B virus can cause chronic swelling of the liver and possible lifelong complications," explains the CDC. The reason why it is important to get this vaccine so early in life is because infants and young children are more prone to develop incurable chronic (long term) infection that can ultimately result in liver damage and liver cancer.

1-2 months 

During the first few months of a baby's life they are given immunity bossing vaccines that will protect them from potentially harmful diseases:

4 months

At 4 months, more immunity protecting vaccines are crucial:

6 months

Again, immunity is key at 6 months.

7-11 months

While there are usually no vaccinations scheduled between 7 and 11 months of age, this is when the CDC recommends catching up on any missed vaccines. They also remind that babies 6 months and older should receive flu vaccination every flu season.

12-23 months

Between one and two years of age, is a crucial vaccination period. Per the CDC, if the recommended schedule is followed by the age of two a child will be protected against 14 vaccine preventable diseases. There are several vaccines needed during this time period. And again, children should receive flu vaccination every flu season.

2-3 years

Seasonal flu vaccination 

4-6 years

7-10 years

11-12 years

There are four vaccines recommended during preteen years, which help protect your children, their friends, and their family members.

13-18 years

19-26 years

  • Flu vaccine every flu season
  • Td or Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis)
  • The CDC also recommends young adults getting the HPV vaccine— which protects against the human papillomaviruses that cause most cervical, anal, and other cancers, as well as genital warts—if they weren't vaccinated at the recommended age of 11 or 12.  
  • Additionally, other vaccines may be recommended for adults because of particular job or school-related requirements, health conditions, lifestyle or other factors. For example, some states require students entering colleges and universities to be vaccinated against certain diseases like meningitis due to increased risk among college students living in residential housing.

27-60 years

  • All adults—especially those with chronic health conditions, women who are pregnant, and older adults—should get a seasonal flu (influenza) vaccine every year.
  • Every adult should get the Tdap vaccine once if they did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough).
  • A Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years is needed.
  • Women should get the Tdap vaccine each time they are pregnant, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks.
  • Healthy adults aged 50 years and older should get a zoster vaccine to prevent shingles and the complications from the disease.
  • Additionally, other vaccines may be recommended for adults because of particular job or school-related requirements, health conditions, lifestyle or other factors.

60 years and over

  • All adults—especially those with chronic health conditions, women who are pregnant, and older adults—should get a seasonal flu (influenza) vaccine every year.
  • Every adult should get the Tdap vaccine once if they did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough).
  • Pneumococcal vaccines, which protect against pneumococcal disease—including infections in the lungs and bloodstream—is recommended for all adults over 65 years old, and for adults younger than 65 years who have certain chronic health conditions
  • Zoster vaccine, which protects against shingles, is recommended for adults 50 years or older

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