What Vaccines Should You and Your Family Have?

Many diseases can be prevented by getting vaccinated against them. The CDC has vaccination schedules that you and your family can follow to make sure you are protected. Getting vaccines when advised may help prevent the spread of these diseases.

Specific vaccine advice varies by your age, where you live, and the risk factors you may have.

Many basic vaccines are often given in combination to reduce the number of injections needed. The following diseases may be prevented by following the CDC guidelines for vaccines:

  • Diphtheria. This is a serious disease caused by a poison (toxin) made by bacteria. It may damage the heart, lungs, and nerves. It can be fatal.

  • Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib).  This is a bacterial infection that leads to serious conditions such as meningitis, pneumonia, and epiglottitis.

  • Hepatitis A. This is a viral liver disease. You can get it by eating food or drinking water contaminated with feces. Or you can get it by coming in contact with someone who has the infection. Symptoms may include upset stomach, severe tiredness (fatigue), and yellowing of the skin (jaundice). But some people have no symptoms. This is especially true in younger children.

  • Hepatitis B (hep B). This type of hepatitis is spread through blood and other body fluids. It is also spread in childbirth from an infected mother. Symptoms may include fever, fatigue, digestive problems, joint pain, and yellowing of the skin and eyes. Symptoms can last for weeks or months. Hepatitis B is often more severe than hepatitis A because of greater liver damage and a risk of long-term (chronic) hepatitis B infection. This can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. 

  • HPV. This is a very common sexually transmitted disease. It can cause genital warts. It can lead to cervical or anal cancer and other less common but serious cancers.

  • Flu (influenza). This is a highly contagious disease that affects your nose, throat and lungs. It is caused by different strains of flu viruses. The flu causes mild to severe illness. It may lead to pneumonia and can be deadly in some cases.

  • Measles (rubeola). Measles is a highly contagious viral infection. It causes fever, cough, runny nose, and a rash all over the body.

  • Meningococcal meningitis. This is a severe bacterial infection of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord (meninges). It can be life-threatening. Symptoms can include fever, headache, a stiff neck, nausea, and mental confusion.

  • Mumps. Mumps is a virus that causes a painful infection in the salivary or parotid glands. It sometimes affects other parts of the body. In rare cases, it can cause sterility in men.

  • Pertussis (whooping cough). This is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It causes severe, high-pitched coughing spasms that continue for long periods.

  • Pneumococcal pneumonia. This is a serious lung infection caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae. It can also spread into the blood (sepsis) and cause spinal infection (meningitis) and other infections.

  • Polio. This is a highly infectious viral disease that affects the nervous system. Symptoms may include a flu-like illness and stiffness in the neck and back, with pain in the arms and legs. In the worst case, the infection can cause lifelong (permanent) paralysis, often in the legs.

  • Rotavirus. This is a highly contagious virus. It is the leading cause of severe diarrhea in children.

  • Rubella (German measles). This is a contagious disease caused by a virus. Symptoms include a rash and fever. It can cause birth defects if a woman who is pregnant catches it.

  • Tetanus (lockjaw). This is a disease of the nervous system caused by the bacteria Clostridium tetani. Symptoms include painful muscle contractions. These contractions can progress to seizure-like motion and nervous system disorders.

  • Varicella (chickenpox). This is a contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It causes a skin rash and sometimes complications like pneumonia and others. It is most common in children.

  • Shingles (zoster). This is a painful skin rash with blisters caused by the varicella zoster virus. It is the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a chickenpox infection, the virus remains for life in nerve cells. It can come back years later as shingles. 

  • COVID-19. This contagious infection can be serious and life-threatening, especially in certain high-risk groups such as older adults or those with chronic health problems. The CDC and other experts advise COVID-19 vaccines for certain age groups to prevent the spread of the infection.

Online Medical Reviewer: Amy Finke RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Barry Zingman MD
Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2021
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