Vaccines & Diseases

Some vaccine-preventable diseases like flu and whooping cough remain common in the United States. Others are less common like polio, but still exist throughout the world and can cause serious illness, hospitalizations and even death to people of all ages. Luckily, we have the ability to protect ourselves from 16 serious diseases during our childhood and teen years, and several additional vaccines to protect ourselves as adults. Learn more about these vaccine-preventable diseases and the vaccines that protect against them below.

Why It is So Important to Vaccinate Your Family

People in the U.S. still get sick, become disabled and even die because of vaccine-preventable diseases. Please watch and read stories from families that were affected, sometimes tragically, by vaccine-preventable diseases.

You have the power to help protect yourself and your family. It is our hope that the information and resources on this page – and throughout this website – will help answer any questions you have about vaccine preventable diseases and the vaccines that help prevent those diseases. Talk your doctor and make sure your whole family is up to date on

Diseases That Vaccines Protect Against

Chickenpox, also known as varicella, is a viral infection that causes an itchy, blister-like rash.  Chickenpox is very contagious to people who haven’t had the disease before or been vaccinated against it. The virus spreads mainly by touching or breathing in virus particles that come from the chickenpox blisters, and possibly through tiny droplets from infected people after they breathe or talk.

Even though chickenpox is relatively mild for some people, for others it can be a very serious disease leading to severe illness with complications such as infected blisters, pneumonia, bleeding disorders, swelling of the brain, hospitalization and even death. It can be dangerous in mild cases too. When a person gets chickenpox, the virus remains in the body for life, and can reappear as shingles once the person is older. Only a person who had the chickenpox can get shingles. 

Before the chickenpox vaccine was approved in the U.S., approximately 4 million people (mainly children) got sick with the disease each year. About 10,600 people were hospitalized, and 100 to 150 died every year as a result of chickenpox. Today, because of the vaccine, far fewer people are infected or hospitalized with chickenpox.

Chickenpox does not only infect children. In fact, the risk of hospitalization and death from chickenpox is increased in adults. Pregnant women and their newborns who get chickenpox are also at risk of serious health complications from chickenpox.

Watch this video to find out why you never want to RSVP “yes” to a “Chickenpox Party”.

Symptoms

Chickenpox usually lasts about five to ten days. The most common symptom of the chickenpox is an itchy rash with small, fluid-filled blisters which begin on the back and chest. The blisters change to scabs in 1-3 days. It is common to see blisters and scabs at the same time. Other signs and symptoms, which may appear one to two days before the rash starts, include:

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Tiredness and a general feeling of being unwell
Prevention

The chickenpox vaccine (also known as the varicella vaccine) is the best way to prevent chickenpox in people of all ages. Nine (9) in 10 children who get both doses will be completely protected. There is also a combination vaccine available for children called MMRV that combines the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine with the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine.

Babies and Children

For the best protection against chickenpox, your child needs to get two doses of the chickenpox vaccine. The first dose should be given between 12 and 15 months old, and the second dose is given between 4 and 6 years of age.

Adults

Risk of hospitalization and death from chickenpox is increased in adults. If you are an adult who never got the chickenpox and never got the chickenpox vaccine, you need to get two doses of the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine.

Chickenpox vaccination is especially important for:

  • Healthcare professionals
  • People who care for or are around others with weakened immune systems
  • Teachers
  • Child care workers
  • Residents and staff in nursing homes and residential settings
  • College students
  • Inmates and staff of correctional institutions
  • Military personnel
  • Non-pregnant women of child-bearing age (to avoid complications of chickenpox during pregnancy)
  • Adolescents and adults living with children
  • International travelers

To make certain your family is up to date on their vaccines, check out the CDC’s recommended immunization schedules for children, teens and adults, and talk to your healthcare provider.

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2 and its variants, including Delta.

COVID-19 is very serious and very contagious. Since the COVID-19 pandemic first began in early 2020, there have been over 37 million COVID cases and over 625,000 deaths due to COVID in the U.S. alone. See the latest stats from the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker.

Symptoms

People with COVID-19 report a variety of symptoms including fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Anyone – including children and teens – can get COVID-19 and spread it to others. While many young people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, children and teens can – and some do – get severely ill from COVID. Those that get very sick from COVID could need to be hospitalized. Babies under 1 year old and children with certain underlying conditions may be more likely to have severe illness from COVID-19.

People 60 years and older and people with certain health conditions like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes and obesity are at higher risk of getting seriously sick with COVID-19. View the list of the underlying health conditions that put people at higher risk of serious COVID-19 illness.

A person with COVID-19 is contagious and can start spreading it to others starting 48 hours (2 days) before the person has any symptoms or tests positive

Long COVID/Long Haul COVID/Chronic COVID

While most people with COVID-19 get better within weeks of being sick, some people experience post-COVID health conditions. Post-COVID health conditions are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience four or more weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Even people who did not have COVID-19 symptoms in the days or weeks after they were infected with the virus can have post-COVID health conditions. These conditions are often known as “LONG COVID”, “LONG HAUL COVID” or “CHRONIC COVID”, and they can have different types and combinations of health problems for different lengths of time

Medical and public health experts are looking into a rare, but serious medical condition associated with COVID called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS) that can occur in both children (MIS-C) and adults (MIS-A). MIS is a health condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Experts do not yet know what causes MIS. However, they do know that people with MIS-C had the virus that causes COVID-19, or had been around someone with COVID-19. MIS can be serious, even deadly.  Learn more about MIS and its symptoms.

Who Should Get Tested?

According to the CDC, the following people should get tested (a viral test) for COVID-19:

  • People who have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • People who have had a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
    • People who are fully vaccinated should get tested 3-5 days after exposure, and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.
    • People who are not fully vaccinated should quarantine and be tested immediately after being identified, and, if negative, tested again in 5–7 days after last exposure or immediately if symptoms develop during quarantine.
  • People not fully vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccine who are prioritized for expanded community screening for COVID-19.
  • People not fully vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccine who have been asked or referred to get testing by their school, workplace, healthcare provider, statetriballocal or territorial health department.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and choose to not get tested, it is important to stay home and away from others. Find out what to do if you are sick.

Visit CDC’s website to see when to quarantine and when to isolate yourself from others.

Learn more about testing for COVID-19.

COVID-19 vs. Flu

Flu and COVID-19 are both respiratory illnesses that can result in hospitalization or death. Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. View the differences and similarities between COVID-19 and flu. Download this table from CDC that shows the symptoms of COVID-19, Common Cold, Flu, Strep throat, Asthma and Seasonal Allergies.

Virus Variants

According to the CDC, there are multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 circulating around world. Some of these variant viruses spread more easily and quickly than others, and some cause more serious illness.

The CDC states there are currently six “variants of concern” in the U.S.

  • B.1.1.7: This variant was first identified in the United Kingdom (UK). It was first seen in the U.S. in December 2020.
  • B.1.351: This variant was initially detected in South Africa in December 2020. It was first seen in the U.S. at the end of January 2021.
  • P.1: This variant was initially identified in travelers from Brazil, who were tested during routine screening at an airport in Japan, in early January. It was first seen in the U.S. in January 2021.
  • B.1.427 and B.1.429: These two variants were first identified in California in February 2021 and were classified as “variants of concern” in March 2021.
    • Most cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. are currently from the Delta variant. It is more than 2 times more contagious than previous virus variants (including the original virus that started the pandemic).
    • Almost all of the people who have had a severe case of COVID or have been hospitalized or died from the Delta variant have been unvaccinated.
    • The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against the Delta variant is to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The three vaccines available to people in the U.S. (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) are safe and help protect against COVID-19 (including the Delta variant).
    • There have been some mild to moderate cases (also known as “breakthrough cases) of COVID in fully vaccinated people, and if they get infected (even without symptoms), they can spread the virus to others. However, vaccinated people appear to be infectious for a shorter period of time. The COVID vaccine provides fully vaccinated people with strong protection against serious illness and death due to COVID.

Because the Delta variant is so contagious and causes serious illness, we ALSO need to use other prevention strategies like wearing masks and social distancing to keep the virus from spreading. In areas of sustained or high spread of COVID-19, fully vaccinated people should wear masks when in public indoors.B.1617.2 (Delta): This variant was identified in India in December 2020. In June, the CDC classified the Delta variant as a “variant of concern” because it spreads very easily from person to person and it can cause more severe COVID illness.

COVID-19 Vaccines

Vaccination is the safest way to help you build protection against COVID-19, including the Delta variant. COVID-19 can have serious, life-threatening complications, and there is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you. And if you get sick – even if you have no symptoms – you could spread the disease to friends, family, and other vulnerable people around you.

The COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved or authorized for emergency use (EUA) by the FDA in the U.S. are safe and effective.

  • Pfizer-BioNTech – A COVID-19 vaccine made using mRNA technology. Two doses are required and you need both for the best protection.
    • On August 23rd, the Pfizer COVID vaccine received full approval from the FDA for use in people 16 years old and up. The vaccine is still recommended for people 12 – 15 years old in the U.S. through FDA’s EUA.
  • Moderna – A COVID-19 vaccine made using mRNA technology. Two doses are required and you need both for the best protection.
  • Johnson & Johnson – A COVID-19 vaccine made using viral vector technology. One dose is required.

Even though COVID-19 vaccines are being developed more quickly than usual, vaccine safety was – and continues to be – a top priority in all phases of vaccine development (clinical trials), authorization/approval and post-authorization*/post-approval monitoring. While steps to develop the vaccines were streamlined or overlapped, none of them were skipped. (Before authorizing* and recommending for vaccines for emergency use in the U.S., both the FDA’s Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) and the CDC’s Advisory Committee (ACIP) have carefully reviewed the clinical trials’ data to make certain the vaccines are safe and effective. The FDA and CDC continue to monitor all of the COVID-19 vaccines for safety through the U.S. vaccine monitoring systems.)

If you are not vaccinated, please get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible to protect yourself and your loved ones. 

Where Can I Get a COVID-19 Vaccine?

Click here to find a COVID-19 vaccine near you.

You can also check:

  • Vaccines.gov to see where COVID-19 vaccination appointments are available in your area
  • Your local pharmacy’s website to see if COVID vaccine appointments are available. To see which pharmacies are administering COVID-19 vaccines to eligible people, visit CDC’s list of pharmacy partners in each state. Most pharmacies are using online scheduling systems.
  • Your local news. They may have information on how to get a vaccine near you.

If you are looking for a place to get your child (12 years and up) a COVID-19 vaccine, you can also try contacting your child’s healthcare provider.

What Does It Mean to be “Fully Vaccinated”?

You are considered to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19:

  • 2 weeks after getting your second dose of vaccine in a 2-dose series (Pfizer and Moderna vaccines)
  • 2 weeks after your single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson vaccine)

It takes time for your body to build immunity against COVID after getting the vaccine, so if it has been less than 2 weeks since your COVID-19 shot, or if you still need to get your second dose, you are NOT protected.

Do I Need to Wear a Mask or Social Distance AFTER Getting Vaccinated?

Maybe. As time goes on and the pandemic changes, experts learn more about viruses that cause COVID and the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions. Based on that information, the CDC sometimes needs to update their guidance for the best protection against COVID.

If You are Fully Vaccinated:

  • Due to the very contagious and infectious Delta variant, even fully vaccinated people in areas of substantial or high transmission need to wear masks when they in public indoors.
  • In general you do not need to wear a mask when you are outdoors. However, in areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, fully vaccinated people should also consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated.
  • You need to still follow the masking rules required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.
  • People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be fully protected even if they are fully vaccinated. That’s why experts now recommend that people with these conditions, who are fully vaccinated with a mRNA COVID vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna), get an additional dose of mRNA COVID vaccine 28 days after their second vaccine dose. (Get the same vaccine that you got for the first dose doses. You do not need to go to the same vaccine provider.)

For the most up-to-date guidance from the CDC, visit CDC’s website.

More Information?

For answers to more questions you have about COVID-19 vaccines, visit our COVID-19 Vaccines Q&A page.

Visit the COVID-19 page for more COVID-19 information and resources from VYF and other credible organizations.

Diphtheria is a bacterial disease that can cause significant complications such as injury to the heart, kidneys and other organs. It can also result in nerve damage and paralysis. The disease can be spread from an infected person (including someone who carries the bacteria but has no symptoms) by coughing and sneezing. Diphtheria can also be spread by contaminated objects like toys.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of diphtheria usually begin two to five days after a person becomes infected and may include:

  • Painful swallowing
  • Sore throat and hoarseness
  • Swollen glands (enlarged lymph nodes) in the neck
  • A thick coating on the back of the nose or throat. It may white or grayish. The coating makes it hard to breathe or swallow.
  • Mild fever (101 degrees or less) and chills
Prevention

Vaccination is the best way to protect against diphtheria.  The vaccine for babies and children through 6 years old is called DTaP, and it protects against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (also known as whooping cough).

The vaccine for preteens, teens, adults and pregnant women is called Tdap, and it also protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough).

The Td vaccine, which is a booster vaccine recommended for all adults, protects against tetanus and diphtheria.

Babies and Children

For the best protection against diphtheria, children need to receive all 5 recommended doses of the DTaP vaccine. Your child should get a dose at:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • Between 15 and 18 months
  • Between 4 and 6 years
Preteens and Teens

The Tdap vaccine is the booster shot that helps protect preteens and teens from the same three diseases that the DTaP vaccine protects young children from. All preteens are recommended to receive one dose of Tdap when they are 11 or 12 years old. Teens who did not get the Tdap vaccine at that age should get it as soon as possible. Tdap is especially important for anyone who is in close contact with a baby younger than 12 months of age.

Adults

The CDC recommends that adults get a Td booster shot every 10 years.  To help protect against whooping cough, adults also need a one-time dose of Tdap vaccine. Instead of your next regular Td booster, ask your healthcare provider if you can get the Tdap vaccine instead. It’s fine to get the Tdap vaccine even if you were vaccinated with Td less than 10 years ago.

Being up-to-date with Tdap vaccine is especially important if you are around (or plan to be around) young children, since infants are particularly vulnerable to whooping cough and its potentially serious complications. If you are caring for babies, and haven’t received your one-time dose of Tdap, talk to your healthcare provider about getting this vaccine as soon as possible.

Pregnant Women

The CDC recommends that all women get a dose of Tdap vaccine during the 3rd trimester (between the 27th and 36th week) of every pregnancy. This helps protect both mom and baby from whooping cough (pertussis) and its serious complications. Learn more in the Pregnancy section.

To ensure that your entire family is up-to-date on their vaccines, check out the CDC’s recommended immunization schedules for children, teens and adults, and talk to your healthcare provider.

Haemophilus Influenzae type b (Hib) is a serious illness caused by a bacteria that most often affects children under 5 years old, requiring hospitalization in the majority of cases.

The most common types of serious Hib disease are meningitis (infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord), pneumonia (lung infection), bacteremia (blood stream infection) and epiglottitis (infection and swelling of the throat). Hib disease can cause lifelong disability and can be deadly.

Adults 65 years or older, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and people with certain medical conditions (i.e., sickle cell disease, asplenia, HIV infection, antibody and complement deficiency syndromes, and cancer requiring treatment with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or bone marrow stem cell transplant), are also at increased risk of Hib and its complications.

Hib spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Usually, the Hib bacteria stay in a person’s nose and throat and do not cause illness. But if the bacteria spread into the lungs or blood, the person will become very sick. Even with treatment, as many as 1 in 20 children with Hib meningitis will die. As many as 1 in 5 children who survive Hib meningitis.

Symptoms

Hib causes different symptoms depending on which part of the body is affected. These include:

  • Fever, headache, confusion, stiff neck, and pain when looking into bright lights (meningitis)
  • Poor eating and drinking, and vomiting (meningitis in babies)
  • Fever and chills, headache, cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain (pneumonia)
  • Fever and chills, excessive tiredness, and confusion (bacteremia)
  • Trouble breathing (epiglottitis)
Prevention
Babies and Children

For the greatest protection against Hib, all children younger than 5 years old should get all three or four recommended doses of the Hib vaccine (number of doses depends on vaccine brand). Your child needs doses at the following ages:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months (if needed; depends on brand)
  • 12 through 15 months

The CDC also recommends that unvaccinated older children with certain medical conditions, and for people who receive a bone marrow transplant, get the Hib vaccine. Talk to your healthcare provider about what is best for your child’s specific situation.

Adults

The CDC recommends Hib vaccine for unvaccinated adults with certain medical condition, and for people who receive a bone marrow transplant. Talk to your healthcare provider about what is best for your specific situation.

To see if your family is up-to-date on their vaccines, look at the CDC’s recommended immunization schedule for children, teens and adults, and talk to your healthcare provider.

Hepatitis A is a serious disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.

Hepatitis A is usually spread by coming into contact with people with the hepatitis A virus. Or you can get hepatitis A from coming into contact with objects, food, water or drinks that have been contaminated by the feces of a person who has the hepatitis A virus, which can easily happen if someone doesn’t properly wash his or her hands after using the toilet.

There are widespread outbreaks of hepatitis A throughout the U.S. Since 2016, 33 states have reported approximately 34,000 cases of hepatitis A, almost 21,000 hospitalizations, and approximately 333 deaths.

Symptoms

Not all people with hepatitis A have symptoms. In fact, adults are more likely to have symptoms than children.  If symptoms develop, they usually appear two to six weeks after being infected and may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Dark urine
  • Gray-colored stools
  • Joint pain
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Severe stomach pains and diarrhea (mainly in children)
Prevention
Babies and Children/Preteens and Teens

For the best, long-lasting protection against hepatitis A, the CDC recommends that all children get two  doses of the hepatitis A vaccine (Hep A) starting at 1 year old. These doses should be given at least 6 months apart.

If not previously vaccinated, older children and adolescents can get the Hep A vaccine after 23 months of age.

Adults

Adults who have not been vaccinated previously and want to be protected against hepatitis A can get the vaccine.

People at Higher Risk for Hepatitis A

The CDC recommends the hepatitis A vaccine for the the following groups of unvaccinated people (1 year of age and older) who are at higher risk for hepatitis A:

  • You live in a community with a high rate of hepatitis A
  • You are experiencing homelessness
  • You are a man and have sex with other men
  • You use recreational drugs, whether injected or not
  • You work or travel to countries with high rates of hepatitis A
  • You have a chronic or long-term liver disease, including hepatitis B or hepatitis C
  • You receive blood products to help your blood clot/have a clotting-factor disorder
  • You are a family member of/caregivers of adoptees from countries where hepatitis A is common
  • You are in direct contact with others who have hepatitis A

Learn more about vaccines recommended for travelers, lifestyles and certain jobs.

To ensure that your entire family is up-to-date on their vaccines, check out the CDC’s recommended immunization schedules for all ages, and talk to your healthcare provider.

Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus. When a person is first infected with the virus, he or she can develop an acute (short term) infection. This severity of this infection can range from a very mild illness with few or no symptoms to a serious illness requiring hospitalization. Some people with acute infections are able to fight off the infection. For other people, the hepatitis B infection remains and becomes chronic (lifelong), possibly leading to liver failure, liver cancer or cirrhosis (a condition that causes permanent scarring of the liver).

According to the CDC, up to 1.4 million people in the U.S. may have chronic hepatitis B infection and each year about 2,000 people in the U.S. die from hepatitis B-related liver disease.

Hepatitis B virus spreads through contact with blood, semen or other body fluids from an infected person. People can spread the virus even when they have no symptoms. A person who is unaware that they have hepatitis B can still pass the virus to others.

Newborns who become infected with hepatitis B virus have a 90% chance of developing chronic hepatitis B, which can eventually lead to serious health problems including liver damage, liver cancer and even death.

Babies and children can get hepatitis B:

  • During birth (spread from infected mom to baby)
  • Through a bite by an infected person
  • By touching open cuts or sores of an infected person
  • Through sharing toothbrushes or other personal items used by an infected person
  • From food that was chewed by an infected person (There are some parents that pre-chew food for their baby, but this is not recommended).

Adults can get hepatitis B through:

  • Sex with an infected partner
  • Direct contact with the blood or open sores of an infected person
  • Sharing needles, syringes, or drug preparation equipment
  • Sharing items such as toothbrushes, razors or medical equipment (e.g., glucose monitor) with an infected person
  • Exposure to blood from needlesticks or other sharp instruments of an infected person
Symptoms

Not all people infected with the hepatitis B virus will have symptomsIn fact, many people with a hepatitis B virus do not know they are infected since they do not feel or look sick. However, they can still spread the virus to others.

Adults and children over the age of 5 years are more likely to have symptoms. The symptoms usually appear about three months after infection and can range from mild to severe, and may include:

  • Dark urine
  • Fever
  • Joint, muscle and stomach pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea, diarrhea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice)
Prevention
Babies and Children/Preteens and Teens

For the greatest protection against hepatitis B, children need to receive all three recommended doses of the hepatitis B vaccine (HepB). Your child needs to be vaccinated at the following ages:

  • Shortly after birth (This first dose is critical and should be given to your infant within 24 hours of birth)
  • Between 1 and 2 months
  • Between 6 and 18 months

The Hepatitis B Birth Dose – The first HepB dose, given to your baby within 24 hours of birth, is a safety net. It helps reduce your baby’s risk of getting hepatitis B from you or your friends/family members, who may not know they are infected with the disease. It’s important to realize that hepatitis B is not strictly a sexually-transmitted disease and many people with hepatitis B have no idea how they got the virus.

When a mom has hepatitis B, there’s an additional medicine that can help protect her baby against hepatitis B, called the hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG). HBIG gives the baby’s body extra help in fighting the hepatitis B virus as soon as he or she is born. This shot works best when the baby gets it within the first 12 hours of his life. For the best protection, the baby also needs the full hepatitis B vaccination series.

All children and adolescents younger than 19 years of age who didn’t receive the Hep B vaccine when they were younger should also be vaccinated.

Pregnant Women

When a pregnant woman seeks prenatal care, she will be given a blood test to check for for hepatitis B infection. This is important because women infected with hepatitis B can pass the virus to their baby during birth. As mentioned above, newborns who become infected with hepatitis B virus have a 90% chance of developing chronic hepatitis B, which can eventually lead to serious health problems including liver damage, liver cancer and even death.

To help her baby fight against the hepatitis B virus, the baby will be given hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) within the first 12 hours of his or her life. The baby will also be given the full hepatitis B vaccination series.

Adults

The CDC recommends hepatitis B vaccine for unvaccinated adults who are at risk for hepatitis B virus infection.

You should get the hepatitis B vaccine if:

  • You have sex with or live in the same house as a person with hepatitis B virus infection
  • You have sex with more than one partner
  • You seek care in a clinic for sexually transmitted diseases, HIV testing or treatment, or drug treatment
  • You have HIV infection
  • You are a man who has sex with other men
  • You inject drugs
  • You have a job that involves contact with human blood
  • You are on the staff of, or a client in, an institution for the developmentally disabled
  • You are a hemodialysis patient or have end-stage renal disease
  • You are a dialysis patient
  • You have chronic liver disease
  • You have diabetes and are under age 60
  • You live or travel for more than 6 months a year in countries where hepatitis B is common
  • You seek care in a clinic for sexually transmitted diseases, HIV testing or drug treatment
  • You are a prisoner in a correctional facility
  • You want to be protected from hepatitis B

Learn more about vaccines recommended for travelers, lifestyles and certain jobs.

To ensure that your entire family is up-to-date on their vaccines, check out the CDC’s recommended immunization schedules and talk to your healthcare provider.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus that can cause six types of cancer  – cervical, vaginal, vulvar, anal, penis and throat cancers (oropharyngeal cancer). HPV also causes genital warts.

Around 80 million people in the U.S. are currently infected with HPV and about 14 million people, including teens, become infected with HPV each year.

HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women will be infected with the virus at some point in their lives without HPV vaccination. It can be passed even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms.

In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and people infected with the virus never knew they had it. However, when HPV does not go away, it can lead to serious health problems such as genital warts and cancer.

According to CDC, every year in the United States, HPV causes 35,900 cancers in men and women. That’s the same as the average attendance for a baseball game! The HPV vaccine could prevent approximately 90% of these cancers from ever developing, but only if given before people become exposed to the virus.

Symptoms

Genital warts usually appear as a small bump or groups of bumps in the genital area. A healthcare provider can usually diagnose warts by looking at the genital area.

HPV-related cancers usually don’t have symptoms until they are quite advanced, very serious and hard to treat. For this reason, it is important for women to get regular pap tests for cervical cancer (in addition to getting vaccinated against HPV).

There is no routine screening test for HPV-associated diseases other than cervical cancer, so its important to visit your doctor regularly for checkups, and get the HPV vaccine to prevent the cancers from ever developing.

Download the CDC’s graphic –Don’t rely on screening to catch it later. Protect them now with HPV vaccination.

Prevention

HPV vaccination is cancer prevention. HPV vaccination helps prevent six types of cancers caused by HPV in both men and women. HPV vaccination can also help prevent genital warts. 

Preteens and Teens

The CDC recommends that two doses of HPV vaccine be given to to children starting at 11-12 years of age. The vaccination series should be completed by age 13. The HPV vaccination works best when given at 11 or 12 years old.  In fact, cancer protection actually decreases as the age of vaccination increases. Preteens who receive their two shots less than five months apart will require a third dose of HPV vaccine.

If your teen hasn’t gotten the vaccine yet, talk to their healthcare provider about getting them vaccinated as soon as possible. Teens and young adults who start the HPV vaccination series between 15 and 26 years old will need three doses of HPV vaccine. Three doses of HPV are also recommended for people with certain immunocompromising conditions between 9 and 26 years old.

For the HPV vaccination series to be most effective, all vaccine doses should be given to your child before they having any type of sexual activity (before they are exposed to HPV).  There is no reason to wait to vaccinate until your child reaches puberty or starts having sex.

Some parents may be surprised to learn that sexual intercourse is not necessary for HPV infection. Oral-genital and hand-genital transmission of some genital HPV types is possible. And, a person can become infected during their first sexual encounter.

Download VYF’s handout, Supercharge Your Kid’s Cancer Fighting Power, and see the answers to commonly-asked questions about HPV vaccination.

Adults

HPV vaccination is recommended for everyone through age 26 years, if not vaccinated already.

Adults 27 through 45 years old (who are not already vaccinated) should speak with their healthcare provider about their risk for new HPV infections and the possible benefits of vaccination. Since HPV vaccine works best for people before they are exposed to HPV, the vaccine might not be as beneficial for this age group.

HPV Vaccine Safety

HPV vaccination provides safe safe, effective and long-lasting protection.

Numerous research studies have been conducted to make sure HPV vaccines are safe – both before and after the vaccines were licensed in the U.S. Before the three HPV vaccines were licensed for use in the U.S. by the FDA, each went through years of testing in thousands of people through clinical trials. After being licensed, the CDC and FDA have continued to monitor the safety of the HPV vaccines through the four surveillance systems in the U.S.

Over 120 million doses of HPV vaccines have been distributed in the U.S. so far and HPV vaccines continue to have a good safety record.

Like any vaccine or medicine, HPV vaccines can cause side effects, but the most common side effects are mild. They include pain, redness or swelling in the arm where the shot was given; dizziness; fainting; nausea; and headache. The benefits of HPV vaccination far outweigh any potential risk of side effects.

To ensure that your entire family is up-to-date on their vaccines, check out the CDC’s recommended immunization schedules for children, preteens/teens and adults, and talk to your healthcare provider.

Additional Resources

Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are once again expected to spread at the same time. Flu is a serious, and potentially deadly disease, caused by a virus. It is not the same as the common cold or what people refer to as the “stomach flu.”

Flu spreads through the air when infected people cough, sneeze or talk, and other people nearby breathe in the virus. In fact, people with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. The flu virus can also be spread to adults and children when a person wipes their eyes or puts their hands in their mouth or nose after touching a surface that has flu virus on it. Flu spreads quickly through communities as the virus passes from person to person.

The flu season is unpredictable, but it often occurs from October to May and usually peaks in January or February. Annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months and older by the end of October. Although vaccination later in the season can still be beneficial. It takes your body 2 weeks to build up immunity (protection) following vaccination, so it’s best to get vaccinated before flu starts spreading in your community.

The CDC estimates that each year in the U.S., flu results in 140,000 to 810,000 hospitalizations, and 12,000 to 61,000 deaths. In addition, more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized and approximately 100 children (often more) die as a result of the flu each year. Sadly, during the 2019-20 flu season, 199 children died due to flu, which was the highest number ever recorded – except for the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic. During the 2020-21 flu season, 1 child died as a result of flu. (The lower number of flu death is likely due to the prevention methods that were used by many people during the COVID pandemic.) Over 2,000 children in the U.S. have lost their lives to flu since 2004 (when reporting of child flu deaths first began).

Symptoms & Treatment

Flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • fever or feeling feverish/chills (you don’t need to have a fever in order to have the flu)
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle or body aches
  • headaches
  • extreme tiredness
  • vomiting and diarrhea (this is more common in children than adults)

View the emergency warning signs of flu in infants, children and adults. If you or a loved one are experiencing these warning signs, get medical care right away. Your healthcare provider may prescribe antiviral drugs that can be used to treat flu illness, but in order to be effective it’s very important to take these medication within 48 hours of the onset of your flu symptoms. Learn more about antivirals and their benefits.

Questioning whether you or a loved one has COVID-19, flu or just a cold?
  • Flu usually comes on suddenly and has more severe symptoms than a cold. Although some people with flu have fever, not everyone will. Learn more.
  • Flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. See the differences and similarities between COVID-19 and the flu.

Courtesy of CDC

You may be able to spread flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

  • People with flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after their illness begins.
  • Some otherwise healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.
  • Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.
People at High Risk of Serious Complications from Flu

Serious complications of flu can result in hospitalization or death, even in healthy people. However, some groups of people are at even higher risk for complications:

Prevention

A yearly flu vaccine is the best line of defense against flu. The CDC recommends a yearly (seasonal) flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older, preferably by the end of October although flu vaccination later in the season can still be beneficial . It usually takes about two weeks after getting vaccinated for your body to build up immunity, so it’s important to get vaccinated before flu starts spreading in your community. Flu vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk from flu; many of whom are also at high risk for COVID-19 and its serious complications.

The Flu Vaccine Cannot Give You The Flu Graphic

Ever year, new flu vaccines are created to protect against the four flu viruses that research suggests will be most common during the upcoming flu season.

All flu vaccines, regardless of how they are manufactured, protect against the same four flu viruses. There are injectable flu vaccines (commonly known as flu shots) that are made using egg-based, cell-based, and recombinant technologies. There is also a needleless nasal spray flu vaccine. To identify which flu vaccine may be best for you and your family, it’s important to talk to a trusted healthcare provider.  Neither the CDC nor AAP recommend one type of flu vaccine over another. Learn more about the different flu vaccines available for the 2021-22 season.

People with a history of egg allergies can receive a flu vaccine under the following conditions:

  • People with an egg allergy who have only experienced hives after egg exposure can receive any licensed flu vaccine that is appropriate for their age and health status.
  • People with an egg allergy who have experienced more severe reactions following egg exposure (e.g., respiratory distress or lightheadedness) can receive any licensed flu vaccine that is appropriate for their age and health status, but vaccination should take place in an inpatient or outpatient medical setting under the supervision of a capable healthcare provider.
  • People who previously have had a serious allergic reaction to a flu vaccine, regardless of the cause, should not receive a flu vaccine.

Learn more about flu vaccines for people with egg allergies.

Even though the effectiveness of the flu vaccine varies season to season and in different age groups, scientific studies show us that getting the flu vaccine can still give you and your family members important, lifesaving benefits. It can:

  • Keep you from getting sick with flu.
  • Reduce the seriousness of your flu illness (e.g., reduce the length of time you are sick and/or the severity of your symptoms).
  • Reduce the risk of your children dying from flu.
    • A 2017 study published in Pediatrics shows that flu vaccination can significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from flu. In this study, flu vaccination was found to be 65% effective at preventing flu-related deaths in otherwise healthy children and 51% effective at preventing flu-related deaths in children with high-risk medical conditions.
  • Reduce the risk of being hospitalized due to flu (children and adults).
    • Flu vaccination prevents tens of thousands of hospitalizations each year.
    • A 2018 study showed that from 2012 to 2015, flu vaccination reduced adults’ risk of being admitted to the ICU due to flu by 82%.
  • Help protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness and flu-related complications like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, lung disease and chronic kidney disease.
  • Help protect women and their babies – during and after pregnancy.
    • A 2018 study showed that getting a flu shot reduced a pregnant woman’s risk of being hospitalized with flu by an average of 40%.
    • A number of studies have shown that in addition to helping to protect pregnant women, a flu vaccine given during pregnancy helps protect the baby from flu infection for several months after birth, when he or she is not old enough to be vaccinated.

Visit your healthcare provider or pharmacist to get flu vaccines for your family every flu season. 

Babies, Children, Preteens and Teens

The CDC recommends that all children (6 months of age and older) should get a flu vaccine every year.

    • Some children between 6 months and 8 years old need 2 doses of flu vaccine in order to be protected from flu. The 2 doses should be received at least 4 weeks apart. Your child’s healthcare provider can tell you if your child needs 2 doses.
    • If your child needs 2 doses, begin the process early as possible to make sure your child is protected before flu starts spreading in your community.
    • Be sure to get your child a second dose if they need one. It usually takes about 2 weeks after the second vaccine dose for your child to be protected against flu. The first doses “primes” your child’s immune system. If you child doesn’t get both doses they might not be protected from flu.
Pregnant People

Getting sick with the flu can cause serious problems for a pregnant person and their baby. If you are pregnant during flu season, the CDC and pregnancy experts agree that the best way to protect both yourself and your baby from the flu is to get vaccinated.

  • Changes in a pregnant individual’s immune, heart, and lung functions during pregnancy make them more likely to become very sick from the flu. In addition, pregnant individuals with the flu are at higher risk of hospitalization and death than non-pregnant people.
    • A 2018 study showed that getting a flu shot reduced a pregnant individual’s risk of being hospitalized with flu by an average of 40%.
  • If a pregnant person becomes very sick from the flu, it can also be dangerous to their baby because it increases the chance for serious problems, such as premature labor and delivery, and birth defects.
    • A 2016 study published in Pediatrics showed that flu vaccination during pregnancy reduced the risk of flu in infants by 70% and reduced the risk of flu-related hospitalization by 81% during their first six months of life.

Pregnant individuals who get a flu vaccine are also helping to protect their babies from serious flu illness for the first several months after birth. Since infants cannot be vaccinated against the flu until they are 6 months old, it is also important that everyone who will be around a newborn be vaccinated against the flu.

Flu shots have been given to millions of pregnant people over many years. Flu vaccinations are monitored for safety through the U.S. vaccine safety systems including VAERS, VSD and CISA. Studies show that flu shots are SAFE during any trimester for both pregnant individuals and their babies. Learn more about flu vaccination during pregnancy.

It is also safe for people to get the flu vaccine while breastfeeding. In fact, breastfeeding also helps to protect babies because breast milk passes your antibodies to your baby, and these antibodies help fight off infection. If you missed getting the flu shot while you were pregnant, it is important to get vaccinated before leaving the hospital.

Adults

All adults should get a flu vaccine every year. Even healthy adults of all ages can become seriously ill from the flu. In fact, flu and pneumonia, a common complication of flu, are ranked as the 9th leading cause of death in the U.S. By vaccinating everyone in your family, every year, you can help protect yourself and your loved ones from becoming sick and dying from the flu.

Flu also takes a toll on the U.S. economy, resulting in a yearly economic burden of $83 billion and 17 million missed workdays every year. Getting a flu vaccine can help keep you and your family healthy so that you don’t miss work or school.

Older Adults and People with Chronic Health Conditions

Studies have shown that flu vaccination is very important for people with certain chronic conditions (see list of conditions above) as they are at higher risk of serious flu illness, flu-related complications, hospitalization and dying.

Additionally, because immune defenses weaken as we get older, people 65 years and older also need to make sure they get a flu vaccine every year. The CDC estimates that between 70-90% of flu-related deaths and between 50-70% of flu-related hospitalizations occur in people 65 years and older. 

Flu vaccination has been shown to reduce flu illness and serious flu-related complications, including hospitalization and death, in older people. Although the CDC doesn’t recommend one flu vaccine over another, there are flu vaccines (high dose and adjuvanted) that were designed specifically for people 65 years of age and older. Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist to confirm which flu vaccine is right for you.

In 2019, 1,282 cases of measles in 31 states were reported to the CDC. This is the greatest number of cases in the U.S. since 1992 when 963 cases were reported for the entire year. Of those who got measles in 2019, 128 were hospitalized and 61 reported having complications, including pneumonia and encephalitis.

2019 outbreaks in the U.S. were due to:

  • An increase in the number of unvaccinated travelers who got measles abroad and brought it back with them to the U.S.
  • Further spread of measles in U.S. communities with pockets of unvaccinated people.
  • Inaccurate and misleading information about vaccines leading people not to vaccinate against measles.

In 2020, there were 13 confirmed cases measles in the U.S.

As of September 1, 2021, there have been 2 cases of measles reported so far in the U.S. Visit the CDC website for the latest number of cases and more information.

Measles is Serious

Some people think of measles as just a rash and fever that clears up in a few days, but the fact is that measles can cause serious health complications, especially in:

  • Children younger than 5 years old
  • Adults over 20 years old
  • Pregnant women
  • People with weakened immune systems

The disease kills hundreds of thousands of children each year around the world, most under the age of 5. There is no way to tell in advance how severe your child’s symptoms will be.

  • About 1 in 4 people in the U.S. who get measles will be hospitalized.
  • As many as 1 out of every 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, the most common cause of death from measles in young children.
  • 1 out of every 1,000 people with measles will develop brain swelling, which could lead to brain damage
  • 1 or 2 out of 1,000 people with measles will die, even with the best care.
  • Measles may cause pregnant women who have not got the MMR vaccine to give birth prematurely, or have a low-birth-weight baby.
Measles is Very Contagious

Measles spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. A person with measles can be contagious 4 days BEFORE their rash develops. Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 9 of 10 people around them will also become infected if they are not protected.

Symptoms

Measles signs and symptoms appear 7 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Signs and symptoms of measles typically include:

  • High fever
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Red eyes (conjunctivitis)
  • A skin rash of tiny red spots that starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the body
  • Ear infection
  • Diarrhea

Download this handout from CDC, AAP and AAFP that lists the symptoms of measles.

If you suspect you or one of your family members has been exposed to measles, do not go to your doctor or healthcare provider. Instead, call them and explain the situation. Measles is highly contagious, and you could infect others in the waiting room and/or while traveling to and from the doctor’s office, if you have been exposed to the disease. Your healthcare provider will be able to tell you the next steps to take to protect yourself, your family and your community.

Prevention
Babies and Children

For the best protection against measles, your children need to receive the two recommended doses of the MMR vaccine. One dose of MMR vaccine is about 93% effective at preventing measles, and two doses are about 97% effective. The first dose should be given between 12 and 15 months and the second dose should be given between 4 and 6 years of age. Children can receive the second dose earlier, as long as it is at least 28 days after the first dose.

According to CDC, if there are many measles cases occurring among infants younger than 12 months old in your community, your local immunization program and/or healthcare provider may recommend MMR vaccination of infants as young as 6 months old, as a way to control the outbreak. Please note that children vaccinated before their first birthday still need two more doses of MMR vaccine (one dose at 12 -15 months of age and a second dose at least 28 days later).

MMR vaccine is given later than some other childhood vaccines because antibodies transferred from mom to baby can provide some protection from disease and make the MMR vaccine less effective until about 1 year of age.

If you are traveling internationally with children, please see the CDC’s recommendations below.

Adults

According to the CDC, if you were born after 1957, you need at least 1 dose of measles vaccine vaccine, UNLESS a laboratory confirmed that you had past measles infection or are immune to measles.

Certain adults may need 2 doses of MMR vaccine, including:

  • students at post-high school education institutions
  • healthcare personnel
  • international travelers
  • people who public health authorities determine are at increased risk for getting measles during a measles outbreak

If you’re not sure whether you are up to date on measles vaccination, talk with your healthcare provider.

What if I received the “killed” version of the measles vaccine in the 1960s?

According to the CDC, if you know that you got the “killed” version of the measles vaccine (an earlier formulation of measles vaccine that is no longer used) in the 1960s, you should talk to your doctor about getting revaccinated with the current, live MMR vaccine. Not many people fall into this group; the “killed” version of the vaccine was given to less than 1 million people between 1963 and 1968. Also, most people don’t know if they got the killed vaccine during this time. If you’re unsure whether you fall into this group, you could ask your doctor to test your blood to determine whether you’re immune. Or you can just get a dose of MMR vaccine. There is no harm in getting another dose of MMR vaccine, even if you are already immune to measles (or mumps or rubella).

What if I’m unsure whether I am immune to measles?

If you’re unsure whether you’re immune to measles, you should first try to find your vaccination records or documentation of measles immunity. If you do not have written documentation of measles immunity, you should get vaccinated with the MMR vaccine. Another option is to have a doctor test your blood to determine whether you’re immune, but this option will take two doctor’s visits. There is no harm in getting another dose of MMR vaccine, even if you are already immune to measles (or mumps or rubella).

Do I Need a MMR Booster Shot?

No. If you got two doses of measles/MMR vaccine as a child, according to the U.S. vaccination schedule, the CDC considers you to be protected for life against measles. Again, if you’re not sure whether you are fully vaccinated, talk with your doctor.

If You are a Healthcare Provider

The CDC states that healthcare personnel should have documented evidence of immunity, according to the recommendations of the ACIP. Healthcare personnel without evidence of immunity should get 2 doses of MMR vaccine, separated by at least 28 days.

International Travelers (All ages)

People 6 months of age and older who will be traveling internationally should be protected against measles. Before any international travel, the CDC recommends:

  • Infants 6 through 11 months of age should receive one dose of MMR vaccine. Infants who get one dose of MMR vaccine before their first birthday still need two more doses at the regularly recommended ages
  • Children 12 months of age and older should receive two doses of MMR vaccine separated by at least 28 days.
  • Teenagers and adults who do not have evidence of immunity against measles should get two doses of MMR vaccine separated by at least 28 days.

To ensure that your entire family is up-to-date on their vaccines, check out the CDC’s recommended immunization schedules and talk to your healthcare provider.

Meningococcal disease is a bacterial illness that can become very serious, very quickly. It often strikes without warning – even in healthy people.

The two most severe and common forms of meningococcal disease are meningitis and septicemia.  Meningitis is an infection of the fluid and lining around the brain and spinal cord and can lead to brain damage, hearing loss, learning disabilities, and even death. Septicemia is a bloodstream infection, which can lead to loss of an arm or leg and even death.

Even with treatment, about 1 out of 10 people with meningococcal disease will die, sometimes within 24 hours after showing symptoms. Of those who survive, about 1 to 2 will have permanent disabilities such as brain damage, hearing loss, loss of kidney function or loss of limbs. Approximately 600 -1,000 people get meningococcal disease in the U.S. each year.

The bacteria that causes this infection can spread when people have close or lengthy contact with someone’s saliva, such as through kissing; coughing or sneezing; sharing utensils and drinks; and living in close quarters.

Children under 1 year old, teens and young adults are at increased risk for meningococcal disease.

Serogroups of Meningococcal Disease

There are five major serogroups of meningococcal disease: A, C, W, Y and B. One-third of meningococcal disease cases in the U.S. are serogroup B. Serogroup B meningococcal disease is the most common cause of disease in adolescents and young adults, and has caused several outbreaks on college campuses in recent years.

Learn more about meningococcal disease and outbreaks.

Symptoms

It’s easy to mistake the early signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease for the flu. Signs and symptoms may develop over several hours or over one or two days, and may include:

  • Sudden high fever
  • Severe headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Vomiting or nausea with headache
  • Confusion or difficulty concentrating
  • Seizures
  • Sleepiness or difficulty waking up
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Lack of interest in drinking and eating
  • Skin rash

The symptoms of meningococcal disease are the same for all of the serogroups.

Prevention

There are two vaccines that protect against meningococcal disease:

  • The meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY) protects against four of the five types (serogroups) of meningococcus – A, C, Y, and W-135.
  • The meningococcal serogroup B vaccine protects against serogroup B of meningococcus.
Babies and Children/Preteens and Teens

The CDC recommends that all adolescents receive two doses of the MenACWY vaccine. Your child needs the first dose at 11-12 years old, with a second “booster” dose at 16 years old.

Less than one-third of children who received the first dose of MenACWY have received the second “booster” dose, so please talk to your healthcare provider to determine if your child is up-to-date.

In addition, the CDC recommends MenACWY for children who are between 2 months and 10 years old, if they:

  • Have a rare type of disorder (complement component deficiency)
  • Are taking the medicine called Soliris®
  • Have a damaged spleen or their spleen has been removed
  • Have HIV
  • Are traveling to or residing in countries in which the disease is common
  • Are part of a population identified to be at increased risk because of a serogroup A, C, W, or Y meningococcal disease outbreak

The CDC also recommends MenB vaccine for children 10 years or older, if they:

  • Have a rare type of disorder (complement component deficiency)
  • Are taking a medicine called Soliris®
  • Have a damaged spleen or their spleen has been removed
  • Are part of a population identified to be at increased risk because of a serogroup B meningococcal disease outbreak

MenB vaccine may also be given to anyone 16-23 years old to provide short-term protection against most strains of serogroup B meningococcal disease.

  • The preferred age for MenB vaccination is between 16 and 18 years old.
  • Since the MenB vaccine is not routinely recommended for all teens/young adults, many people have not received this vaccine. Please talk to your healthcare provider to determine if your child should get this vaccine.
Adults

Meningococcal vaccines are recommended for certain groups of adults at increased risk for meningococcal disease. Adults should get MenACWY vaccine if they:

  • Have a rare type of disorder (complement component deficiency)
  • Are taking a medicine called Soliris®
  • Have a damaged spleen or their spleen has been removed
  • Have HIV
  • Are a microbiologist who is routinely exposed to Neisseria meningitidis
  • Are traveling to or residing in countries in which the disease is common
  • Are part of a population identified to be at increased risk because of a serogroup A, C, W, or Y meningococcal disease outbreak
  • Are not up-to-date with this vaccine and are a first-year college student living in a residence hall (dorm)
  • Are a military recruit

Adults should get MenB vaccine if they:

  • Have a rare type of disorder (complement component deficiency)
  • Are taking a medicine called Soliris®
  • Have a damaged spleen or their spleen has been removed
  • Are a microbiologist who is routinely exposed to Neisseria meningitidis
  • Are part of a population identified to be at increased risk because of a serogroup B meningococcal disease outbreak

To ensure that your entire family is up-to-date on their vaccines including meningococcal, check out the CDC’s recommended immunization schedules and talk to your healthcare provider.

Additional Resources

Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. It is spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing and through close contact (even regular conversation) with infected people. The primary, and best known, sign of mumps is swollen salivary glands that cause the cheeks to puff out.

While usually a mild disease, mumps can also cause complications such as meningitis (swelling of the brain and spinal cord) and deafness. In addition, about one out of every four teenage or adult men who get mumps will develop a painful swelling of the testicles which can, although rarely, lead to sterility.

Outbreaks in the U.S. continue to put people at risk of mumps and its complications. Since 2016, there have been over 12,800 cases of mumps, which were mainly reported on college campuses where people live in close contact. View Mumps Outbreak-Related Questions and Answers.

Symptoms

Some children infected with the mumps virus have either no signs or symptoms or very mild ones. When signs and symptoms do develop, they usually appear about two to three weeks after exposure to the virus and may include:

  • Swollen glands under the ear or jaw
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle aches
Prevention

Vaccination provides the best protection against mumps. There are two mumps-containing vaccines available in the U.S. – the MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella. The MMRV vaccine protects against measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chickenpox).

Babies and Children

For the best protection against mumps, the CDC recommends that children get two doses of MMR vaccine:

  • The first dose at 12 through 15 months of age
  • The second dose at 4 through 6 years of age

Children may also receive the MMRV vaccine. The CDC recommends that children get one dose of MMRV vaccine at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. Your child’s healthcare provider can help you decide whether to use the MMRV or MMR vaccine.

Teens/Young Adults

The CDC recommends that students at post-high school educational institutions who do not have evidence of immunity need two doses of MMR vaccine, separated by at least 28 days.

Adults

The CDC recommends that adults who do not have evidence of immunity should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine.

International travelers

Mumps remains a common disease in many parts of the world. Anyone who is not protected against mumps is at risk of getting infected when they travel internationally. Before traveling internationally, the CDC recommends that people should be protected against mumps:

  • Infants 6 months to 11 months old should have 1 dose of MMR shot  (Children will still need 2 more doses of MMR at the routinely recommended ages).
  • Children 12 months of age or older should have two doses of MMR vaccine, separated by at least 28 days.
  • Teenagers and adults without evidence of immunity (protection) to mumps should have two doses of MMR vaccine, separated by at least 28 days.

To ensure that your entire family is up-to-date on their vaccines, check out the CDC’s recommended immunization schedules for children, adolescents and adults, and talk to your healthcare provider.

Pneumococcal disease is caused by a bacteria called pneumococcus. Pneumococcal disease, which is spread by coughing and sneezing, is common in young children, but older adults are at greatest risk of serious illness and death. 

Types of pneumococcal disease include pneumonia (lung infection), meningitis, bloodstream infections (bacteremia and sepsis), middle ear infections and sinus infections.

Adults

Pneumonia is the most common form of pneumococcal disease in adults. It is estimated that more than 150,000 hospitalizations from pneumococcal pneumonia occur annually among adults in the U.S. and about 5 – 7% of those who are hospitalized from it will die.

Adults 65 years or older are at increased risk for pneumococcal disease. In addition, some adults 19 through 64 years old are also at increased risk, including those:

  • With chronic illnesses (lung, heart, liver, or kidney disease; asthma; diabetes; or alcoholism)
  • With conditions that weaken the immune system (HIV/AIDS, cancer, or damaged/absent spleen)
  • Living in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities
  • Who smoke cigarettes
Children

According to the CDC, each year in the United States, pneumococcus causes thousands of cases of pneumonia and ear infections. Additionally, about 2,000 cases of serious pneumococcal disease occur each year in children under 5 in the U.S. These illnesses can lead to disabilities such as deafness, brain damage, or loss of arms or legs. About 1 in 15 children who get pneumococcal meningitis will die. About 1 in 5 children with bacteremia will die.

Since there are more than 90 known types of pneumococcal bacteria that cause disease, a previous pneumococcal infection will not protect you from getting the disease again. Therefore, pneumococcal vaccines are still recommended for people who have had pneumococcal disease in the past.

Symptoms

Symptoms depend on the type of pneumococcal disease, but generally include fever and/or chills. Additional symptoms may include:

  • Cough, rapid breathing or difficulty breathing, and chest pain (pneumonia)
  • Stiff neck, headache, confusion and pain when looking at bright lights (meningitis)
  • Poor eating and drinking, low alertness, and vomiting (meningitis)
  • Low alertness (bacteremia)
  • Ear pain, red/swollen ear drum and sleepiness (middle ear infection)
Prevention

Pneumococcal vaccines are the best way to prevent pneumococcal disease in children, teens and adults. There are two types of pneumococcal vaccine available in the U.S. – pneumococcal conjugate vaccination (PCV13) and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (also known as PPSV23).

Babies and Children

The CDC recommends pneumococcal conjugate vaccination (PCV13) for all children younger than 2 years old. For the best protection children need to receive all four recommended doses of the PCV13 vaccine. Your child will need one dose at each of the following ages:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 12 through 15 months

The CDC also recommends:

  • Vaccination with the PCV13 vaccine for people 2 years or older with certain medical conditions.
  • Vaccination with the PPSV23 vaccine for people 2 through 64 years old with certain medical conditions.
Adults

The CDC recommends a pneumococcal vaccination for all adults 65 years or older.

  • All adults 65 and older are recommended to receive 1 dose of 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23).
  • Adults 65 and older should talk to their healthcare provider about whether a dose of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) would also be beneficial for them.

*It is also important to get a flu shot every year because having the flu increases your chances of getting pneumococcal pneumonia.

The CDC also recommends:

  • Vaccination with the PCV13 vaccine for people 2 years or older with certain medical conditions.
  • Vaccination with the PPSV23 vaccine for people 2 through 64 years old with certain medical conditions, and adults 19 through 64 years old who smoke cigarettes.

To ensure that your entire family is up-to-date on their vaccines, check out the CDC’s recommended immunization schedules and talk to your healthcare provider.

Polio is a potentially crippling and deadly disease caused by a virus that spreads from person to person. It can invade the brain and spinal cord resulting in paralysis.

Before the polio vaccine was available, an average of 50,000 cases were reported in the United States each year. Polio was one of the most dreaded childhood diseases of the 20th century with annual epidemics, primarily during the summer months. This often left thousands of victims — mostly children — permanently in braces, crutches, wheelchairs or in iron lungs. Because polio can paralyze the diaphragm, in the 1940s and 1950s, entire wards of hospitals housed polio victims who were dependent on large iron lungs to breathe for them.

Although the U.S. has been successful at eliminating polio it is still occurring in parts of the world and therefore we must continue to vaccinate to protect our children. Learn more about Rotary’s efforts to eliminate rotary around the world.

Symptoms

Polio can cause paralysis. Signs of paralytic polio may include:

  • Loss of reflexes
  • Severe muscle aches or spasms
  • Loose and floppy limbs (flaccid paralysis), often worse on one side of the body

Polio does not always cause paralysis, and people with polio don’t always show symptoms. If symptoms of nonparalytic polio appear, they may include:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Pain or stiffness in the back, neck, arms or legs
  • Muscle spasms or tenderness
Prevention

Since polio has no cure, polio vaccination is the best way to protect children and the only way to stop the disease from spreading. There are two types of vaccine that can prevent polio – inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) and oral polio vaccine (OPV). Since 2000, only IPV has been used in the U.S.; however, OPV is still used throughout most of the world.

Babies and Children

For the most protection against polio, your children need to receive all of the recommended doses of the polio vaccine.  The CDC recommends four doses of IPV for children at:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • Between 6 and 18 months
  • Between 4 and 6 years old

To see if your children and the rest of your family are up-to-date on their vaccines, look at the CDC’s immunization schedule and talk to your healthcare provider.

Rotavirus is a virus that causes diarrhea and vomiting in young children. It can lead to severe dehydration, which if not treated, can be deadly. Before the rotavirus recommendation in the United States in 2006, almost every child was infected with the virus by age 5, sending 200,000 children to the emergency room; causing 55,000 to 70,000 hospitalizations; and 20 to 60 deaths. Each year, rotavirus continues to cause an estimated 453,000 deaths among infants around the world each year.

Symptoms

After a child has been infected with rotavirus, it takes about two days for symptoms to appear. Symptoms may include:

  • Dehydration (loss of body fluids)
  • Vomiting
  • Severe watery diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite

In adults who are otherwise healthy, a rotavirus infection may cause only mild signs and symptoms — or none at all.

Prevention
Babies and Children

For the best protection against rotavirus, children need to receive all recommended doses (2 or 3 doses depending on vaccine brand) of the rotavirus vaccine. Your child needs doses at:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months of age (if needed due to the brand of vaccine)

To see if your children are up-to-date on their vaccines, look at the CDC’s immunization schedule and talk to your healthcare provider.

Rubella, also called German measles, is a contagious viral infection best known by its distinctive red rash. The virus can spread to others through coughing and sneezing.

While the disease is usually mild in children and adults, rubella can be very dangerous for pregnant women and their babies. If a pregnant woman is infected with the disease it can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, and/or birth defects such as heart problems, hearing and vision loss, intellectual disabilities, and liver or spleen damage. This group of health problems is called congenital rubella syndrome (CRS).

According to the CDC, before the rubella vaccine was introduced in 1969, widespread outbreaks usually occurred every 6 to 9 years in the U.S. Between 1962 and 1965, rubella infections during pregnancy were estimated to have caused 30,000 stillbirths and 20,000 children to be born impaired or disabled.

In 2004, the CDC announced that both the congenital and acquired forms of rubella had been eliminated in the U.S. However, the U.S. continues to vaccinate to prevent the possibility of rubella being brought in from countries where it is still common.

Symptoms

The symptoms of rubella are often so mild they’re difficult to notice, especially in children. If symptoms do occur, they generally appear two to three weeks after exposure to the virus and last two to three days.

Symptoms may include:

  • Mild fever of less than 101 degrees
  • Headache
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Inflamed, red eyes
  • Enlarged, tender lymph nodes
  • A fine, pink rash that begins on the face and quickly spreads to the trunk and then the arms and legs, before disappearing in the same sequence
  • Aching joints (especially in young women)
Prevention
Babies and Children

For the best protection against rubella, children need to receive the two recommended doses of the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, and rubella). Your child needs doses at:

  • Between 12 and 15 months
  • Between 4 and 6 years of age

Children may also receive the MMRV vaccine, which includes protection against chickenpox (varicella). Talk to your child’s healthcare provider to see which vaccine – MMR or MMRV – is best for them.

Pregnant Women

Rubella is dangerous for a pregnant woman leading to miscarriage or having a baby born with birth defects. So, if you are thinking of becoming pregnant, please talk to your healthcare provider about getting vaccinated if you are not already immune. For more information, please visit the Pregnancy section.

To ensure that your entire family is up-to-date on their vaccines, check out the CDC’s recommended immunization schedules and talk to your healthcare provider.

Shingles (also known as herpes zoster) is a painful rash with blisters. The rash usually appears on one side of a person’s face or body.

Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. You can only get shingles if you had chickenpox. After you recover from chickenpox, the virus stays in your body and goes dormant in the roots of the nerves. In some people, the virus stays that way, but for many others, the virus “wakes up” many years later and causes shingles.

Shingles cannot be passed from one person to another. However, the varicella zoster virus can spread from a person infected with shingles to cause chickenpox in someone who never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine. The virus is spread through direct contact with fluid from the rash blisters caused by shingles. A person is not infectious before the blisters appear or once the blisters have crusted over. The risk of someone with shingles spreading the virus to others is low if the rash is covered.

Shingles is not unique to older adults and can be seen at any age in anyone who had chickenpox; but, shingles is much more common in people 60 years of age and older. The risk of shingles increases as a person gets older. Shingles is also more common in people whose immune systems are weakened due to a disease such as cancer or HIV, or drugs such as steroids or chemotherapy.

According to the CDC, 1 out of every 3 people in the United States will develop shingles, and there are about 1 million cases of the disease each year in the U.S.

Symptoms

Symptoms for shingles usually start as pain, itching or tingling in the area where the rash will develop. This may happen anywhere from 1 to 5 days before the rash appears.

Once the rash develops, it is most commonly a single stripe around either the left or the right side of the body. In other cases, the rash appears on one side of the face. The rash will contain blisters filled with fluid that usually scab over in 7 to 10 days.

The rash often clears up within 2 to 4 weeks. In rare cases (usually among people with weakened immune systems), the rash may be more widespread and look similar to a chickenpox rash. Visit the CDC website to see photos of people infected with shingles.

Other possible symptoms of shingles include fever, headache, chills and upset stomach.

Complications from Shingles

The most common complication of shingles is post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). People with PHN have severe pain in the areas where they had the shingles rash after (at least 90 days) the rash clears up. The pain from PHN usually goes away in a few weeks or months; however, for some people, the pain from PHN can last for years and may interfere with their everyday life. As people get older, they are more likely to develop PHN, and the pain is more likely to be severe. PHN rarely occurs in people under 40 years of age.

In addition to PHN, shingles may lead to serious complications involving the eye. Very rarely, shingles can lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, brain inflammation or death.

Prevention

The shingles vaccine is the best way to help prevent shingles and its complications. Even if you have had shingles before, you should still get vaccinated as it can help prevent getting shingles again in the future.

Adults

The shingles vaccine is called Shingrix (also known as RZV). Shingrix reduces the risk of shingles and PHN by more than 90% in people 50 and older.

The CDC recommends that healthy adults 50 years and older get vaccinated with 2 doses of the Shingrix vaccine to prevent shingles and related complications.

Additionally:

  • Shingrix is the preferred vaccine for preventing shingles and related complications. (Shingrix is recommended over Zostavax.)
  • You need both recommended doses of Shingrix. The second dose should be given 2-6 months after the first dose.
  • You should get Shingrix even if you were vaccinated with the previously recommended shingles vaccine (Zostavax) in the past. (You must wait at least 8 weeks after receiving Zostavax before you can get Shringrix)
  • The risk of hospitalization and death from chickenpox is increased in adults. Therefore, all adults who never received the chickenpox vaccine and never had the chickenpox should consider getting vaccinated. However, you do not need to be screened for a history of chickenpox before getting the shingles vaccine.
  • People who have a weakened immune system should talk to their healthcare provider to see if it is safe for them to get the shingles vaccine.
Treatment of Shingles

Several antiviral medicines are available to treat shingles, and can help shorten the duration of the rash and reduce pain. To be most effective, people with shingles should start taking antiviral medicines as soon as possible after the rash appears. People who think they might have shingles should call their healthcare provider as soon as possible to discuss treatment options.

Unfortunately, there is no effective treatment for PHN.

Commonly known as lockjaw, tetanus is a severe disease that causes stiffness and spasms of the muscles. Up to 20% of reported tetanus cases end in death.

Unlike other vaccine-preventable diseases, which are transferred from person to person, tetanus bacteria are found in places such as soil/dirt, dust, and manure. Therefore, the disease will never be eradicated. The bacteria enter the body through any break in the skin, such as a cut or a puncture wound. A person can also be infected after a burn or animal bite.

There’s no cure for tetanus. Treatment focuses on managing complications until the effects of the tetanus toxin resolve. Almost all cases of tetanus are in people who haven’t been vaccinated, or those who completed their childhood series but did not receive a booster dose in the last 10 years. Fatality is highest in people who haven’t been immunized.

Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms of tetanus, in order of appearance, are:

  • Seizures (jerking or staring)
  • Fever and sweating
  • High blood pressure and fast heart rate
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Stiffness of muscles all over the body
  • Painful muscle spasms strong enough to break a child’s spine or bones
Prevention

Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent tetanus.

Babies and Children

For the best protection, children need to receive all five recommended doses of the DTaP vaccine. DTaP protects against three diseases – diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (also known as pertussis). Your child needs doses at:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • Between 15 and 18 months
  • Between 4 and 6 years
Preteens and Teens

The Tdap vaccine is the booster shot that helps protect preteens and teens from the same three diseases that the DTaP vaccine protects young children from.

All preteens are recommended to receive one dose of Tdap when they are 11 or 12 years old. Teens who did not get the Tdap vaccine at that age should get it as soon as possible. Tdap is especially important for anyone who is in close contact with a baby younger than 12 months of age.

Adults

Vaccine protection for whooping cough (pertussis), tetanus, and diphtheria fades with time.

Therefore, the CDC recommends a single dose of Tdap vaccine for all adults 19 years of age and older who have not previously received a Tdap vaccine.

The CDC also recommends adults receive a tetanus and diphtheria booster (called Td) every 10 years. The easiest thing for adults to do is to get Tdap one time instead of their next regular Td booster. You can get the dose of Tdap earlier than the 10-year mark, so talk to your healthcare provider during your next appointment.

Being up-to-date with one dose of Tdap is especially important for adults who are around babies.

Pregnant Women

Women should get a dose of Tdap during the 3rd trimester of every pregnancy to protect themselves and their newborns against whooping cough. Infants are most at risk for severe, life-threatening complications from whooping cough.  Learn more in the Pregnancy section.

To ensure that your entire family is up-to-date on their vaccines, check out the CDC’s recommended immunization schedules and talk to your healthcare provider.

Whooping cough (also known as pertussis) is a very contagious disease.

People of all ages can get whooping cough, but the disease can be very dangerous for babies, as they are at particularly high risk of serious complications, hospitalization and death. In the first 6 months of life, babies are at high risk for complications from whooping cough, even if they are healthy.

  • About 7 in 10 deaths from whooping cough are among babies younger than 2 months old. These babies are too young to be protected by their own whooping cough vaccination (DTaP). The younger the baby is when they get whooping cough, the more likely they will need to be treated in a hospital.

Whooping cough spreads easily through coughing or sneezing or by just sharing breathing space.  Since the symptoms of whooping cough can vary, some people with whooping cough may just have a mild cough or what seems like a common cold, and they can end up spreading it to babies they are in close contact with. In fact, most unvaccinated children living with a family member with whooping cough will get the disease.

Whooping cough is still common in the United States, and outbreaks still occur putting children at great risk. According to the CDC, there are about 15,000 to 40,000 cases of whooping cough and up to 20 deaths each year in the U.S.

Symptoms

In many children, whooping cough is a severe hacking cough followed by a high-pitched intake of breath that sounds like a “whoop.” However, some babies with whooping cough don’t cough at all. Instead they may have a hard time breathing, or even stop breathing for short periods.

Symptoms usually take between 1 and 3 weeks to appear. They’re usually mild at first and resemble those of a common cold. After a week or two, signs and symptoms worsen. Thick mucus accumulates inside the airways causing uncontrollable, severe coughing. Violent coughing fits may cause:

  • Vomiting
  • A red or blue face (from not getting enough air)
  • Difficulty breathing, eating, drinking and/or sleeping
  • Broken ribs
  • Gasping for air after a coughing fit. This may cause a “whooping” sound.

Preteens, teens and adults with whooping cough may have coughing spells that last for weeks or months. However, the “whoop” sound may not be there and the illness is generally less severe than in young children, especially in those people who were previously vaccinated against whooping cough. In fact, some preteens/teens and adults who get pertussis may not even know they have the disease.

Prevention

Vaccination is the best way to protect people of all ages, especially infants and young children, from whooping cough. The pertussis vaccine is combined with vaccines that protect against diphtheria and tetanus. For babies and young children, this vaccine is called DTaP. For preteens, teens, adults and pregnant women, the vaccine is called Tdap.

Babies and Children

For the best protection against whooping cough, your child needs all 5 recommended doses of the DTaP vaccine. Your child should receive doses at:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • Between 15 and 18 months
  • Between 4 and 6 years
Preteens and Teens

The Tdap vaccine is the “booster” shot that helps protect preteens and teens from tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough). All preteens are recommended to receive one dose of Tdap when they are 11-12 years old. Teens who did not get the Tdap vaccine at that age should get it as soon as possible. Tdap is especially important for anyone who is in close contact with a baby younger than 12 months of age, since infants and young children are at higher risk for serious whooping cough complications.

Adults

All adults (19 years and older) who have not yet received one dose of Tdap as a preteen, teen or adult, need to get a Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough). This vaccine will not only protect you from these diseases, but will also help protect those around you from getting sick.  This is especially important, if you are planning to be around any babies, who are at high risk of serious complications from whooping cough. So, if you don’t remember getting a Tdap vaccine, you should ask your healthcare provider. After that, adults need a Td vaccine (tetanus and diphtheria only) booster shot every 10 years.

Pregnant Women

All pregnant women should get a Tdap vaccine during their 3rd trimester to protect both themselves and their babies from whooping cough. The CDC recommends getting the Tdap shot between the 27th and 36th week of each pregnancy, preferably during the early part of this time period. This recommendation is supported by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM), the American Association of Family Physicians (AAFP) and the American Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN).

When a pregnant woman gets a whooping cough vaccine during pregnancy, her body creates protective antibodies and passes some of them to her baby before birth. These antibodies will provide the baby with short-term, early protection against whooping cough and its serious complications. This is very important since infants are too young to be protected by their own whooping cough vaccination series.

Studies have shown that Tdap vaccination during pregnancy is safe and effective for pregnant women and their babies. 

Learn more about vaccines for pregnant women and how they help protect both mom and baby in our Pregnancy section.

Breastfeeding

According to the CDC, when you get a Tdap vaccine during your pregnancy, you will have antibodies in your breast milk that you can share with your baby through breastfeeding. However, your baby will not get protective antibodies immediately if you wait to get the Tdap vaccine until after delivering your baby. This is because it takes about 2 weeks after getting vaccinated for your body to create antibodies. Learn more about the benefits of breastfeeding.

To make sure that your entire family is up-to-date on their vaccines, check out the CDC’s recommended immunization schedules and talk to your healthcare provider.

Additional Resources