You may be tired of hearing “vaccine” these days.

But while the COVID-19 vaccine has been front and center this year, it’s just as important to stay up-to-date on all your other immunizations.

In fact, it’s especially important right now, because millions of Americans have postponed important healthcare—including their inoculations—during the pandemic.

Now’s an excellent moment to make up for that lost time (and those delayed vaccinations), but you may not know where to begin. Here are some things to keep in mind to stay on track.

Top Immunizations for Adults

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as the ACA or Obamacare) identifies essential vaccinations for adults. If you have insurance and meet the specified criteria, you are eligible to get these shots at no cost, from any doctor or pharmacy in your network, even without meeting your deductible.

  • All adults who have not previously had chickenpox need the two-series chickenpox (varicella)vaccine, separated by at least four weeks.
  • All adults need one dose of this combination shot, followed by a Tdap or Td (tetanus/diphtheria) booster every 10 years.
  • Everyone, regardless of age, should get an annual flu shot.
  • Adults who were not vaccinated as children should request the combination vaccine series, especially if they fall into a higher-risk category such as healthcare workers or international travelers.
  • This vaccine series is recommended for everyone up to age 26. Those through age 45 may get vaccinated in consultation with their doctor.
  • Adults without evidence of immunity should get at least one dose of this combination vaccine. Those traveling to high-risk settings may need two doses.
  • Although most adults over 23 years old don’t need a meningitis vaccine, it is recommended for those in certain high-risk groups, including some researchers and those with a damaged or removed spleen.
  • All adults aged 65 or above and younger adults who smoke or have certain medical conditions should get at least one pneumonia shot. Talk to your doctor to determine if you will need a booster at some point.
  • Every aged 50 or above should get a one-time two-dose series of shingles vaccinations.

Note that not all vaccines are appropriate for everyone. If you have any allergies or other concerns, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before being vaccinated.

Myths About Vaccines

Unfortunately, the prevalence of social media and the politicization of public health have allowed vaccine-related myths to run rampant. Here is the truth behind some common vaccine myths.

  • Not true. This myth was based on a fully discredited and retracted 1998 study. Since then, numerous large-scale studies have shown no link between vaccines and autism.
  • For some diseases, this can be true, depending on the specific disease and your particular exposure level. But the price you pay for natural immunity can be high, from congenital disabilities to serious illness or death. And for many diseases, the immune response from vaccines is actually greater and longer-lasting than that provided by infection.
  • The ingredients in vaccines are found throughout nature and in many products you consume regularly. There is no danger of toxic buildup from vaccines.