Tuesday, August 1, 2023

CMO Message: Immunizations

On the topic of preventive health, lifestyle behaviors like nutrition and exercise and cancer screenings are usually top of mind. However, vaccines are one of the most important but often overlooked components of preventive health. Immunizations don’t just keep you safe from viruses and bacteria, but they can also prevent cancer in the case of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine and stop the spread of infectious diseases in your family and community.

While most of us associate vaccinations with childhood, there are several vaccines that adults need to stay up to date on. The ones that are generally recommended include flu, Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), pneumococcal, shingles, and HPV. Adults may also need MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), varicella, and hepatitis B vaccines if they weren’t completed earlier in life. Additional vaccines such as meningococcal and haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) may be recommended based on individual circumstances. Although the flu vaccine is recommended each year, the timing of other vaccines may depend on your age, health history, and exposure risk.

While the worst of the pandemic is behind us, it’s still important to make sure you are up to date with your COVID-19 booster. Everyone 6 months and older should receive at least one updated bivalent booster and a second bivalent booster may be appropriate for people 65 years and older or who have certain health conditions. If you have not received the bivalent booster or are unsure if you need a second one, talk to your provider to learn more.

Lastly, don’t forget about planning for travel vaccines if you’ll be visiting a foreign country. Once your travel plans are in place, reach out to your healthcare provider as soon as possible to understand which vaccines and medications you’ll need for your trip. You can also review the CDC’s Travelers’ Health website for the latest information.

Keeping up with your immunizations is an easy and effective way to stay healthy everyday and especially while traveling abroad. Remember, prevention is always better than cure!


  1. What vaccines do most adults need?
    Most adults will need at least flu, Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), pneumococcal, shingles, and HPV vaccines. Your personal vaccine schedule may be dependent on your health history. During your annual physical or if you have an appointment with your healthcare provider coming up, be sure to ask about what vaccines you need and when you are due for them.
  2. Where can I find information about what vaccines I need based on my travel destination?
    The CDC offers comprehensive health information including recommended vaccines and medications by destination on their Travelers’ Health website. You will still need to schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider to get your vaccines but reviewing this information ahead of time can help you prepare for your visit.
  3. Can I get multiple vaccines at the same time?
    Yes! It’s usually safe and convenient for most people to get multiple vaccines at one time.
  4. What are the common side effects of vaccines?
    Most side effects are mild and temporary and can include soreness or swelling at the injection site, low-grade fever, chills, fatigue, and body aches. Serious side effects are rare.


  • Rosemary Ku, MD/MBA/MPA