Vaccination Schedule for Adults and Adolescents

  • Medical Author:

    Dr. Eddie Hooker is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Services Administration at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is also an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Louisville and at Wright State University. His areas of expertise include emergency medicine, epidemiology, health-services management, and public health.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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What is the Td/Tdap vaccine, and who should receive it?

The Td and Tdap vaccines both contain vaccines against tetanus (lockjaw) and diphtheria. The Tdap also contains a vaccine against pertussis (whooping cough). Most adults are used to getting a tetanus shot when they get a cut. Up until 2005, adolescents and adults were not recommended to receive the pertussis vaccine due to an unacceptable rate of negative reactions. In 2005, a new acellular pertussis vaccine became available for both children and adults (although there are different ones for each group using different amounts of each vaccine). Whooping cough has become a serious problem again due to the lack of vaccination in adolescents and adults. It is therefore recommended that all adolescents and adults receive at least one dose of Tdap when they are due for their next tetanus shot. Health-care workers should get one Tdap vaccination as soon as possible but at least two years since the last tetanus shot (Td).

What is the HPV vaccine, and who should get it?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the cause of cervical cancer. There are over 100 different types of HPV, and the most commonly used vaccine contains the four strains most commonly linked to cervical cancer. Studies have shown that use of the vaccine will decrease the chance that a woman will get cervical cancer. As such, the vaccine must be given before the first sexual contact. Unfortunately, girls are having sexual intercourse at younger and younger ages. The CDC recommends that all girls and boys receive the three-shot series beginning at 11 years of age. This was a change in recent years to reflect the fact that boys need vaccination in order to prevent spread to girls. Adult women who have not received the vaccine should do so up to 26 years of age. After 26 years of age, it is believed that most women would have been exposed to the virus and the vaccine would be of no use.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/7/2015

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