Adult Vaccine Schedule for Parents and Grandparents

All parents and grandparents should get vaccinated to protect themselves and the children in their family from preventable diseases. Here's the recommended adult vaccine schedule for anyone who comes in contact with a newborn.

grandfather holding grandson
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Most newborns with illnesses like whooping cough and influenza catch it from someone inside the home. That's why it's important for those closest to a newborn—such as parents, grandparents, and siblings—to stay up-to-date on shots.

"When adults get vaccinated, it curbs the spread of disease to infants and children who are either too young to be immunized or not yet fully protected," says Anita Chandra-Puri, M.D., a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and a pediatrician at Northwestern Memorial Physicians Group in Chicago.

This strategy is called "cocooning," says Matthew Daley, M.D., a pediatrician for Kaiser Permanente in Colorado and a researcher who studies vaccine topics. "Cocooning is protecting the baby by immunizing the people around [them], like the parents, grandparents, and other kids (but hopefully, they're already caught up with their vaccinations)," Dr. Daley says.

So what does an adult vaccine schedule look like? Check out the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations.

COVID-19 Vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccine protects against the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Why you need it

The COVID-19 vaccine prevents people from developing severe illness that requires hospitalization or causes death. Additionally, the vaccine helps people, including the elderly, pregnant, and immunocompromised individuals, to build immunity without first becoming sick. According to the CDC, staying up-to-date on boosters is the best way to protect against COVID-19.

The CDC says the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for everyone except for babies under 6 months. Therefore, the CDC recommends that anyone who cares for or comes in contact with infants should be vaccinated to help reduce the spread of COVID.

Unvaccinated children have an elevated risk of developing multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), a rare condition associated with SARS-CoV-2, which causes the heart, lungs, skin, kidneys, brain, eyes, and gastrointestinal tract to become inflamed.

Get the COVID-19 vaccine if

See the CDC COVID-19 vaccine chartfor more details on vaccine doses based on age. You can receive the COVID-19 vaccine if:

  • You have already had COVID-19
  • You had the vaccine but need a booster
  • You will be in contact with newborns, the elderly, or those with compromised immune systems
  • You are pregnant or nursing

Skip the COVID-19 vaccines if

  • Infants younger than 6 months

MMR Vaccine

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella.

Why you need it

Even though measles has been largely eliminated from the U.S., pockets of unvaccinated populations still exist where the disease can spread. Measles is highly contagious and can spread quickly through a community that hasn't been vaccinated. The lack of vaccination contributes to measles outbreaks in America.

Babies and pregnant people are more likely to be endangered by measles because they can't be vaccinated. All three viruses—measles, mumps, and rubella (also called German measles)—can cause miscarriage or congenital disorders.

Get the MMR vaccine if

  • You were born in 1957 or later and have never been immunized (Those born before 1957 are considered immune, so they don't need the recommended MMR vaccine schedule for adults.)
  • You're traveling overseas (booster shot)
  • You work in health care (booster shot)
  • You're a female of childbearing age
  • You're a college student, trade school student, or a student beyond high school

Skip the MMR vaccine if

  • You're pregnant (because the vaccine contains weakened, but live, virus strains)
  • You're trying to conceive (Use contraception for a month after getting the vaccine.)
  • You were born before 1957 and were exposed to the viruses (a blood test can confirm immunity)
  • You're allergic to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin
  • Your immune system is severely compromised due to HIV/AIDS or cancer
  • You had blood tests that showed you are immune to measles, mumps, and rubella
  • You already had two doses of MMR or one dose of MMR plus a second dose of the measles vaccine
  • You already had one dose of MMR and are not at high risk of measles or mumps exposure.

Influenza Vaccine

The influenza vaccine protects against the flu.

Why you need it

About 40,000 people die every year from the flu. Infants can get the flu vaccine starting at 6 months of age, but before that, they're particularly vulnerable to this potentially deadly virus. Pregnant people are more likely to be hospitalized with flu-related complications than with the flu itself.

Get the influenza vaccine if

  • Adults should get the flu vaccine every year—even if they're pregnant (Healthy adults, aged 18 to 49 can get the nasal-spray vaccine.)

Skip the influenza vaccine if

  • You have severe egg allergies
  • Pregnant people should not get the nasal-spray vaccine because it contains weakened, but live virus strains
  • You've had Guillain-Barr Syndrome, a disorder that causes your immune system to attack your nervous system

Varicella Vaccine

The varicella vaccine protects against chicken pox.

Why you need it

Children and adults can develop—and even die from—chicken pox-induced complications like pneumonia and infections of the brain, bone, skin, and blood. Before the vaccine was introduced to the U.S. in 1995, about 100 people died from chickenpox yearly and 11,000 more were hospitalized. Even kids with mild cases miss about six days of school (which means missed work days for working parents).

What's worse is that once chicken pox symptoms resolve, the virus that causes it remains dormant in the system but can reactivate later in life as shingles, which is a painful rash that covers one half of the body or face and includes blistering, fevers, headaches, and upset stomach.

Get the varicella vaccine if

  • You've never had chickenpox
  • You've only had one vaccination dose (booster shot)

Skip the varicella vaccine if

  • You're pregnant (because the vaccine contains weakened, but live, virus strains)
  • You're trying to conceive (Use contraception for a month after getting the vaccine)
  • You're allergic to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin
  • Your immune system is severely compromised due to HIV/AIDS or cancer

Tdap or DTaP Vaccine

The Tdap or DTaP vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis.

Why you need it

Protection against tetanus (also known as lockjaw, a disease caused by a bacterial infection), diphtheria (a respiratory infection), and pertussis (whooping cough) fade over time. The bacteria that causes lockjaw makes a toxin, or poison, that causes severe muscle spasms. Newborns are especially vulnerable to these illnesses during the first six weeks after birth because they're not old enough to be vaccinated. The Td booster dose is recommended every 10 years, but the Tdap is given only once.

Get the Tdap vaccine if

  • You're age 64 or younger and you weren't previously vaccinated (get Tdap)
  • You're age 65 or older and are in close contact with infants younger than 12 months (get Tdap)
  • You're age 65 or younger and are in close contact with infants younger than 12 months (get Td booster)
  • It's been 10 years since your last Tdap or Td vaccination (get Td booster)
  • You work in health care (get either Tdap or Td booster)

Skip the Tdap vaccine if

  • You're less than 20 weeks pregnant (Tdap or Td can be given later in pregnancy or after childbirth)
  • You have epilepsy, Guillain-Barr Syndrome, or another nervous system disorder

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine

The HPV vaccine protects people against most genital warts.

In females, the HPV vaccine can prevent some types of cancer, including cervical, vulva, vagina, anus, and oropharynx.

In males, the HPV vaccine can prevent cancer in the mouth, throat, penis, and anus.

Why you need it

According to the CDC, every year, HPV infections cause 36,500 cases of cancer triggered by HPV disease. The HPV vaccine can prevent 33,500 cases from becoming cancer by targeting the infection (HPV) that caused it.

Of the various forms of cancer that HPV causes, only cervical cancer can be detected through early screening; the others cannot be detected until the cancer is advanced, making it challenging to treat.

Among females, HPV infections have dropped by 88% in teens and 81% in adults. Among adult females, cervical cancers decreased by 40% in those who took the vaccine.

The vaccine is most beneficial before the age of 15. Most adults would not benefit from the HPV vaccines because they have most likely been exposed to HPV through sexual activity. The CDC now recommends "catch-up" HPV vaccinations for anyone under 27.

Get the HPV vaccine if:

  • Anyone aged 9 through 26
  • Ages 15 to 26 and immunocompromised (including HIV-positive)
  • Ages 26 to 45 case-by-case basis

Skip the HPV vaccine if:

  • Pregnant
  • Experiencing moderate to severe symptoms of any illness (wait until you're not sick to get the vaccine)
  • Anyone with hypersensitivity or allergy to yeast

Hepatitis A Vaccine

The hepatitis A vaccine protects against liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus.

Why you need it

The hepatitis A virus is a highly contagious disease found in the stool and blood that can lead to liver failure and even death. The most common way it is spread is through close person-to-person contact, such as sharing food and drink or engaging in certain sexual activities.

Each year there are an estimated 32,000 cases. However, because hepatitis A impacts unhoused people and those who are active injection drug users, many cases go undiagnosed.

Get the hepatitis A vaccine if

  • You have chronic liver disease or HIV
  • You are an international traveler
  • You are experiencing homelessness
  • You use illegal drugs, particularly injection drugs
  • Males who have sex with males
  • You have close contact with an international adoptee
  • You have an occupational risk, such as a daycare provider, hospital worker with direct contact with patients, or sewage worker.

Skip the hepatitis A vaccine if

  • Life-threatening allergic reaction to any part of the hepatitis A vaccine
  • Infants under 1

Hepatitis B Vaccine

The hepatitis B vaccine protects against hepatitis B.

Why you need it

Many of the 1 million people infected with hepatitis B don't know they have it. Infected parents can pass the disease, which causes liver disease and cancer, to infants at birth. That's why it's important to understand the hepatitis B vaccine schedule for adults.

Get the hepatitis B vaccine if

  • You're pregnant and haven't been vaccinated already
  • You have more than one sexual partner
  • You're age 60 or older and have diabetes
  • You work in health care
  • You live with someone who has hepatitis B

Skip the hepatitis B vaccine if

  • You have a life-threatening allergy to yeast

Herpes Zoster Vaccine

The herpes zoster vaccine protects against shingles.

Why you need it

Your childhood chickenpox virus can reactivate as shingles during adulthood, resulting in nerve pain that lasts for months or even years. People infected with shingles can pass the chickenpox virus to unvaccinated children.

Get the herpes zoster vaccine if

  • You're age 60 or older

Skip the herpes zoster vaccine if

  • You're allergic to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin
  • Your immune system is severely compromised due to HIV/AIDS or cancer

Pneumococcal Polysaccharide (PPSV) Vaccine

The pneumococcal vaccine protects against pneumonia.

Why you need it

More than 1 million Americans are hospitalized with pneumonia every year. Infants, young children, and older adults are highly vulnerable to the pneumococcus bacteria, which cause pneumonia, meningitis, and blood infections. Pregnant people who get pneumonia have an increased risk of premature labor.

Get the PPSV vaccine if

  • You're age 65 or older
  • You have a serious health condition like kidney failure, lymphoma or leukemia, cancer, or HIV/AIDS
  • You smoke
  • You've had your spleen damaged or removed

Skip the PPSV vaccine if

  • You're age 64 or younger and in good health (But you should check out the pneumococcal vaccine schedule for adults when you reach age 65.)


Meningococcal is a group of severe and sometimes deadly illnesses caused by the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria. There are two types of meningococcal vaccines; the MenACWY and the MenB vaccine.

Why you need it

Meningococcal causes several illnesses, including bacterial meningitis, which is an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord, and bloodstream. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 10 people with meningitis die, and 1 in 5 have severe complications.

Get the meningococcal vaccine if

  • You are a military recruit
  • A college-bound student not up to date with vaccines
  • You have HIV
  • You are an international traveler
  • You have an immune disorder called complement component deficiency
  • Taking certain medications (ask your doctor)
  • Damaged or removed spleen or sickle cell disease
  • Part of a population at risk of infection due to an outbreak

Skip the meningococcal vaccine if

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding
  • You are not feeling well due to another illness, such as a cold or flu
  • You have a known life-threatening allergy to the vaccine

Haemophilus Influenzae type B (Hib)

Haemophilus influenzae, or Hib disease, is a disease that triggers several illnesses caused by the bacteria H. influenzae. But don't be fooled by the name—it does not cause influenza (flu).

Why you need it

Hib disease can cause severe diseases and death in children under 5. Some infections include ear infections, blood infections, and meningitis, which is a dangerous infection of the tissue lining the brain and spinal cord. It can also cause infectious arthritis, cellulitis (swelling of the skin), epiglottitis (swelling of the throat), and pneumonia.

According to the CDC, Hib disease is often severe enough to require hospitalization and can lead to death.

Get the Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) vaccine if

  • A child under 5 (see routine vaccine chart here)
  • People who receive bone marrow transplant
  • Unvaccinated people who have HIV, sickle cell disease, or cancer
  • People who have no spleen

Skip the Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) vaccine if

  • Anyone with a mild illness such as a cold should wait until symptoms resolve
  • Anyone with a life-threatening allergic reaction to the Hib vaccine

The Bottom Line

Vaccines are important to prevent many dangerous illnesses that can infect you and spread to the ones you love, including your children or grandchildren. Read more about vaccine and immunization safety, guidelines, and schedules at the CDC.

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