Last updated: August 9, 2021
If you are healthy, you enjoy life more! To help you stay healthy, get immunized against diseases that are vaccine-preventable.
What immunizations are recommended?
- Tetanus, Diphtheria, Acellular Pertussis (Tdap) vaccine protects against tetanus, also known as lockjaw, which affects the nervous system. It is spread by tetanus bacteria entering the body through cuts or wounds, with a survival rate of only 50%. Diphtheria is spread by bacteria that affects the nose, throat and/or skin. Although rare in the U.S., large outbreaks of diphtheria recently occurred in Asia. Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease that affects adults and children. Though the disease may be milder in older persons, adults are often the source of infection for young children, including infants, who are at higher risk for pertussis-associated complications, including death. For this reason, pregnant women are recommended to have a Tdap vaccination with each pregnancy.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine protects against genital human papillomavirus, the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States. About 20 million people in the United States are infected, and about 6.2 million more get infected each year. Most HPV infections do not cause any symptoms, but HPV can cause cervical cancer and genital warts. The HPV vaccine is highly effective in preventing HPV infection, and it is recommended for people from 9 to 26 years of age. The vaccine is administered in two or three doses. HPV Vaccine
- Measles, Mumps, Rubella vaccine (MMR) protects against measles, mumps and rubella. These viral illnesses, once very common in children, have recently been diagnosed in adults who have not had the disease or vaccine. Adults have a higher risk of complications from measles and mumps, including deafness and pneumonia. Rubella causes birth defects during pregnancy. The vaccine is recommended for individuals who have no history of the diseases or vaccine, mostly those born after 1956.
- Varicella (Chickenpox) vaccine is recommended for all adults who have not had chickenpox. Chickenpox is a very contagious disease and may cause complications among adults, including pneumonia and bacterial infections.
- Annual flu vaccine protects against current viruses, and vaccination is recommended every fall. Influenza is a respiratory illness that can cause complications in the elderly or in those with long-term illnesses. It is recommended for everyone age 6 months and older and especially for people who have chronic conditions that affect their heart or lungs, diabetes, kidney disease, anemia or weakened immune systems, and for pregnant women.
- Pneumococcal vaccines — PCV13 (new) and PPV23 (old) — protect against pneumococcal disease, which causes pneumonia and blood infections. PCV13 is recommended for people age 65 or older to be followed by PPV23 12 months later. If PPV23 is given first, administer PCV13 12 months later. People who have chronic conditions such as heart or lung disease, asthma, diabetes, kidney disease, anemia or weakened immune systems and current smokers should receive pneumococcal vaccine before age 65. These immunizations are given once or twice in a lifetime, depending on a person’s age and health condition.
- Hepatitis A vaccine protects against hepatitis A, which is spread from person to person or by eating contaminated food or water. Those who should be vaccinated include travelers to developing countries where hepatitis A is endemic; males who have sex with males; street drug users; persons who have chronic liver disease; persons who have clotting-factor disorders; and persons whose work puts them at risk for contracting hepatitis A, including persons working with nonhuman primates.
- Hepatitis B vaccine protects against hepatitis B, which is spread person to person through blood and other body fluids. Hepatitis B, also known as jaundice, is a serious liver disease that can cause liver cancer. The vaccine is recommended for individuals whose lifestyle or occupation puts them at risk: health care workers, world travelers, individuals with multiple sex partners and IV drug users.
- Shingles vaccine protects against shingles, a painful skin rash often accompanied with blisters. Shingles is also called herpes zoster. A shingles rash usually appears on one side of the face or body and lasts from 2 to 4 weeks. Its main symptom is pain, which can be quite severe. Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. Only someone who had a case of chickenpox or received chickenpox vaccine can get shingles. The virus stays in the body and can reappear many years later to cause a case of shingles. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (CDC) recommends Shingrix for adults 50 and older, and it is administered in two doses. Shingles Vaccination
Where do I go for immunizations?
Ask your medical provider about vaccines.
The Department of Health does not provide travel immunizations or information on vaccines needed for travel to other parts of the world. Persons needing immunizations for yellow fever, cholera, typhoid or plague or other travel immunizations should go to their private health care provider or a travel immunization clinic. For information about safe health practices while abroad, visit the Centers for Disease Control website or Maryland Center for Immunization. Also, see Travel Health Notices.
For general information on adult immunizations, call the Department of Health at 410-222-4896.