Adult Vaccinations – What Do You Need?

Most of us know the importance of vaccinations for children, but did you know that vaccinations aren’t just for the kids? Vaccines are vital in helping to keep the adult population healthy too, but adult vaccinations are commonly overlooked.

These are some common vaccinations that adults should get, to help keep diseases at bay. Some vaccines are recommended for specific groups of people due to their higher risk, so do take note if you are in one of those groups.



Influenza, or the Flu, is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory passages which causes fever, severe body aches, and catarrh (a build-up of mucus in the nose or throat), and often occurring in epidemics. You can catch the flu any time during the year, but there are two peak seasons in Singapore – April to July, and November to January – when the virus is particularly contagious and affecting a lot of people.

Should you get this vaccine?

Adults of all ages should get the vaccine, especially those who have immune system problems, diabetes, and lung, kidney, heart, or liver disease. It is recommended that you get a flu shot every 6-12 months, as the flu vaccine is updated each year to keep up with the rapidly adapting strands of flu virus. Getting an annual vaccination will help to protect yourself and those around you.


Human papillomavirus (HPV)

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a common virus that can infect many parts of the body. There are more than 100 different strains of HPV, some of which can cause genital warts and cervical cancer in women. HPV is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact such as sexual activity, thus it is most effective to be vaccinated before a woman becomes sexually active. However, women who are sexually active can still benefit from the vaccine.

Should you get this vaccine?

Females aged between 9 and 26 can get the HPV immunisation vaccine, as it can help prevent specific types of HPV infection that may lead to cervical cancer. For females above 26 there is an available vaccine for ages 9-45 available as well. Males aged between 11 and 26 can also get it to prevent anal cancer. For this HPV vaccine, one course of 3 doses over 6 months is needed, with no need for any additional doses or booster shots.

Varicella (Chickenpox)

Chickenpox is a common childhood disease that is highly contagious. Its symptoms are usually a fever accompanied by itchy red spots all over the body that eventually progress to blisters. It is usually transmitted from person to person through direct contact or by droplets from an infected person when he coughs or sneezes, or the fluid from the blisters of an infected person. While chickenpox may be common and mild disease in children, the effects are often more severe in adults.

Should you get this vaccine?

Adults who have never had chickenpox or the vaccination are highly recommended to get the vaccine. The risk of complications from the disease are higher in adults, and pregnant women who contract the disease would also be at risk of complications such as pneumonia. The varicella vaccine is available in 2 doses at least 4-8 weeks apart.


Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)

Measles, mumps and rubella are three diseases all caused by viruses, transmitted through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. The MMR vaccination is usually given to children in their first two years.

Should you get this vaccine?

All adults over the age of 30 should get the MMR vaccine, especially if they missed getting it as children. Women thinking of getting pregnant should also talk to a doctor to check if they require it, as rubella can be extremely harmful to the developing baby if the mother should contract the disease. The MMR vaccine is administered in 2 doses at least 4 weeks apart.


Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap)

Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) are contagious diseases that are potentially life-threatening. Children are usually given a vaccine to develop immunity against these diseases, and the Tdap vaccine offers continued protection from these diseases.

Should you get this vaccine?

The Tdap vaccine is recommended for all adults who have not previously had a dose, and especially for pregnant women, to protect their newborn from developing pertussis (whooping cough) in the first months of their life. Pertussis can be serious and fatal in young infants. The Tdap vaccine is a booster immunisation for adults and should not be confused with the Tdap vaccine that you may have received as a child.


Pneumococcal disease

Pneumococcal disease is the leading infectious cause of death in children and adults worldwide. It is a bacterial infection that causes pneumonia, meningitis, bacteraemia and other life-threatening ailments. Pneumococcal disease is most common in children under the age of 2 years and in adults aged 65 years or older, and can be transmitted through direct contact, or through contaminated droplets from an infected person when they cough or sneeze.

Should you get this vaccine?

Adults aged 65 years and above, as well as those with immune system problems, diabetes, and lung, heart, kidney or liver disease should get the Pneumococcal disease vaccine to reduce the risk of infection.

These vaccines are available in adult vaccination clinic or GP clinics or polyclinics, and you should speak with your doctor to understand what your individual needs are.

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