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Vaccines or immunizations contain inactivated or dead portions of the virus or bacteria they are intended to protect against. The goal is to stimulate your immune system to develop antibodies against that disease so the organism is encountered later, the patient already has an immune response prepared for it. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with support from the American College of Physicians, American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists publish a recommended vaccination schedule. The schedule includes immunizations against common and potentially life threatening infectious diseases. Furthermore, the schedule is tailored to patients based on several factors including the presence of other chronic conditions. In general, the influenza vaccine is recommended for all adult patients every year. Tetanus booster is generally recommended every 10 years to maintain immunity. The pertussis booster is generally recommended as an adult once although there are special recommendations for relative of newborns. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a virus associated with several cancers and with genital warts. It is recommended that men and women up to age 26 receive the vaccine against 9 strains of this virus. There are two pneumonia vaccines and these are generally recommended to all patients over the age of 65 as well as some patients younger than 65 with certain pre-existing conditions. Shingles (herpes zoster) vaccination, a re-activation of the virus that causes chicken pox (varicella zoster) is recommended for most adults over age 50 regardless of prior infection or vaccination. Additionally, there is an established protocol for pediatric patients that includes hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox (varicella zoster), haemophilus influenza and meningococcal vaccination that should be completed for patients who did not complete the series as a child. Finally, for international travelers, there are a series of recommended vaccinations based on destination.

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Resources from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

Recommended Immunization Schedule for Adults Aged 19 Years or Older

Recommended Vaccinations Indicated for Adults Based on Medical and Other Indications

Health Information for Travelers