Healthy Living

Elizabeth’s Adult Vaccine Checklist

Aug 14 2023

It’s back-to-school time, which means parents are busy making sure their kids’ vaccines are up to date. But what about the rest of us?

“There are a lot of risks for being unvaccinated,” Elizabeth Lacy, a nurse practitioner at Bon Secours Woodward Medical Center, shares. “Obviously, the biggest thing is the risk of contracting the disease. So, unfortunately, we’re not done with the shots because the need for protection against different illnesses doesn’t go away just because we become adults.”

Vaccination can also protect you from potential long-term conditions associated with certain illnesses.

Below are some of the top diseases that Elizabeth says can still very much impact you as you age. Thus, you should start thinking about your own immunizations for them.


Even if you had chickenpox as a kid, you’re still at risk for this viral infection in adulthood. While it is not life-threatening, it can cause a very painful rash. Adults over the age of 50 are encouraged to get vaccinated against it. It’s given in two doses.

“Most of the vaccines for adults are a vaccine series, where it’s between one and three vaccines and then they’re typically done for life,” Elizabeth explains. “There are others that do tend to pop up more regularly.”


Another name for tetanus is “lockjaw” because this potentially fatal bacterial infection can cause the muscles in a person’s neck and jaw to lock. It makes it hard to open one’s mouth, swallow or even breathe.

There are four different vaccines in the U.S. that provide protection, all which also provide protection against other diseases, such as diphtheria and pertussis. It’s recommended you get the vaccine immediately if you did not have it as a child, and every 10 years afterwards as a booster shot to ensure continued protection.


This disease can cause infections such as pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis. So, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the pneumococcal vaccines – there are two – for adults over the age of 65. Young adults with certain medical conditions or risk factors may also need a dose of the vaccine.


One of the few vaccines you’ll want to get year after year is the immunization for influenza. It’s recommended for everyone who is 6 months or older, though especially important for those who are at high risk of developing severe symptoms – i.e., pregnant women, older adults and those with underlying conditions, such as asthma or diabetes. The best time to get your flu shot is before the end of October to give you the most coverage throughout flu season.


This vaccine could prevent you from getting COVID-19. It also provides the best protection against hospitalization and severe illness, even for people who still test positive for the disease. Guidelines for this series and potential booster shots depend on several factors, so check in with your primary care provider to find out what’s most appropriate for you.

With any vaccine, there is always the risk of side effects. Elizabeth says that with vaccines it’s common to experience a mild reaction, such as redness or soreness near the injection site, along with other symptoms.

“Some people talk about feeling under the weather after they get their flu shot or COVID shot or the shingles vaccine. It’s not uncommon,” she adds. “But the benefit generally outweighs the risk. In fact, symptoms are actually a good sign because it shows you your body is working and ramping up that immunity you’ll need to stay healthy overall.”

Elizabeth also stresses the importance of discussing which vaccines are most appropriate for you with your primary care provider.

“These are all just recommendations. Now, someone could have a job where a certain vaccine is required, but it’s all dependent on the individual and their particular requirements. Talking it over and having mutual decision-making between you and your health care provider is going to be beneficial for that patient.”

Learn about the primary care services we provide at Bon Secours.

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