Family Health Checklist for Vaccines

It's easy to forget who needs which vaccine and when. Use this list to help you get ahead of it all.

person getting vaccinated

Photo by BSIP/UIG

Photo by BSIP/UIG

Avoid this medicine beforehand.

Before getting vaccinated, you may want to avoid ibuprofen, as it could increase bleeding from the shot. (It’s fine to take afterward.)

Take note: You can get vaccinated even if you have a mild illness like a cold.

Vaccines kids should get by age 13

  • Chicken pox
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • HPV (human papillomavirus)*
  • Inactivated polio
  • MenACWY (meningococcal disease)*
  • MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)
  • Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis)

* Requires multiple injections

HPV two shots at least six months apart for 11- to 12-year-olds; three for kids with a weakened immune system or age 15 or older 

MenACWY one shot at age 11 or 12, followed by a booster at 16

Source: CDC

The HPV vaccine is cancer prevention

“While cervical cancer is the most well-known cancer caused by the virus, HPV also causes cancers of the vagina, vulva, penis, anus and throat,” says Amanda Cohn, MD, a pediatrician and senior advisor for vaccines at the CDC. “There are no recommended screenings for these other cancers, and they may not be diagnosed until they cause problems. HPV vaccination is key.”

How to brave it

  • Listen to music you love.
  • Count backwards from 100.
  • Focus on reading a book.
  • “Numb” your arm with an ice pack.
  • Use a ShotBlocker (bionix.com, $6), a plastic device placed over the injection site to dull pain perception.

Source: Colleen Kraft, MD, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics

Vaccines for adults without special health issues

Every 10 years
Td booster (tetanus and diphtheria toxoids). Getting it at an age that ends in 0 or 5—like 35 or 40—might help you remember when the next one is due.

At 50
Two doses of RZV (recombinant zoster vaccine) two to six months apart to prevent shingles.

At 65
One dose of PCV13 (13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) plus one dose of PPSV23 (23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine) at least a year later to prevent pneumococcal diseases.

Source: CDC

Mark your calendar

Only 64% of parents know when their teen is due for their next vaccine, according to a University of Michigan poll. Unlike when kids are younger, doctors won’t always remind you to make vaccination appointments. If unsure, ask your pediatrician and set a reminder on your phone’s calendar.

4 yearly opportunities to catch up

  • When getting a flu shot
  • At an annual checkup
  • When your teen goes in for their physical to play sports
  • At any trip to the doctor’s office!

3 future vaccines

Scientists are creating vaccines that prevent opioid abuse by teaching the immune system to target opioids and keep them away from the brain. 

Recently, a nasal spray vaccine limited or prevented allergic reactions in mice with peanut allergies; one day it may work in humans. 

Researchers are starting to take cells from a patient’s own tumor to make a vaccine that provokes a bigger immune response than widely used cancer vaccines.