Adult Immunization Frequently Asked Questions

Why are immunizations important?

Some diseases do not have a cure. These diseases may cause serious health problems or even death. Vaccines are effective to prevent disease, many of which no longer exist because of vaccines. Vaccines teach your immune system how to fight disease. Vaccines are important to help you stay healthy and can protect you from the suffering and high costs of being sick with a serious disease.

You can help protect people around you by getting vaccinated, especially babies and people with chronic health conditions or a weak immune system who aren't able to be vaccinated. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have questions related to immunization for adults. They can tell you which vaccines are right for you. Look at these 10 Reasons to be vaccinated.

What are the recommended vaccines for adults?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends several vaccines for adults. The recommended vaccines are based on your age and certain risks you may have from your health, job, or lifestyle. Please talk with your healthcare provider or local health department to find out which vaccines you need:

Recommended Adult Immunization Schedule

Where can I get my immunizations?

Your doctor, nurse, or clinic may carry vaccines. Your local health department or local hospital may administer flu, pneumococcal, hepatitis A, and hepatitis B vaccines. Many pharmacies offer immunizations. Clinics may be available in shopping malls, grocery stores, senior centers, and other community settings. Visit CDC's webpage on where to find vaccines for more information.

What do vaccines cost?

Vaccines are often covered by insurance. If you are uninsured, Washington state provides recommended vaccines at no cost.

If you have a private health care plan: Most health insurance plans have preventive services coverage that includes vaccines. However, some people may have co-payments or other costs. Check with your doctor or clinic and your health insurance plan to determine your costs.

If you have Medicaid/Apple Health: Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) clients can get immunizations from their primary care provider, pharmacy, or local health department. This service isn't available for those in the Take Charge or Family Planning Only and the Alien Emergency Medical Only programs.

If you have Medicare: Medicare covers preventive services, including vaccines. Part B covers some vaccines (flu, hepatitis B and pneumococcal shots); Medicare prescription drug plans (Part D) cover the rest (like the shingles shot). Contact your Medicare drug plan for more information about coverage.

If you are uninsured: The Washington State Adult Vaccine Program (AVP) provides vaccine for adults 19 years of age and older who are uninsured or underinsured. This program is federally funded. The vaccines offered may change from year to year. Check with any healthcare provider to see if they participate in the program or go to the Department of Health map to find providers who participate in this program.

Are there side effects to immunizations?

Vaccines are among the safest medicines available. Some common side effects are a sore arm or low-grade fever. As with any medicine, there is a very small risk that a serious problem could occur after getting a vaccine. However, the potential risks from the diseases that vaccines prevent are much greater than the potential risks associated with the vaccines themselves. Visit our vaccine safety webpage for more information.

What vaccines do I need if I'm traveling abroad?

Travel vaccines depend on where you are going. Contact your doctor or your local health department as early as possible to find out which immunizations you may need. You can visit the Travelers' Health website for up to date information on immunization recommendations for international travelers or call the CDC information line for international travelers at 1-877-394-8747.

What vaccines do I need if I'm pregnant?

Vaccines help protect you and your baby against serious diseases. The CDC recommends you get a whooping cough and flu vaccine during each pregnancy to help protect yourself and your baby. It's also safe for a woman to get routine vaccines right after giving birth, even if you are breastfeeding. You can get a flu shot any time during pregnancy. You should get Tdap vaccine (the whooping cough shot) as early as possible in the third trimester (between 27 and 36 weeks of gestation) of each pregnancy.

Do I need a personal immunization record?

Yes, everyone should have an immunization record. It helps you and your doctor make sure that you are fully protected. It may prevent revaccination during a health emergency or when you change doctors. Ask your doctor for an immunization record. Take it with you every time you visit your doctor. They can review and update it.

Learn more about options you have for accessing your family's immunization information. If you have immunization records from another state or country, ask your doctor to enter them in the Washington system for you.

Back to Top