Vaccines are a simple, safe, and effective way of protecting yourself against harmful diseases. You can get vaccinated at primary care offices, OB-GYN, and pharmacies. Most are free or low cost. You need vaccines throughout your life for a few reasons:
Immunity from childhood vaccines can wear off over time.
Adults are at risk for different diseases than children.
Vaccines may also be required for school, work, travel and more.
Vaccines help prevent getting and spreading serious diseases that could result in poor health, missed work, medical bills, and not being able to care for family.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccines for adults ages 60 and older are now available. Talk to your provider to see if RSV vaccination is right for you.
The vaccines you need are based on your age, if you are pregnant, work in health care, are planning to travel, or live with a medical condition. Talk to your doctor about which vaccines are recommended for you.
People 65 and over with Medicare Part D drug coverage pay nothing out-of-pocket for a wide range of recommended vaccines.
Your health and wellbeing are more important than ever—for yourself and your developing baby. Getting recommended vaccines during pregnancy not only protects you both but is especially crucial as pregnancy increases the risk of severe illness from vaccine-preventable diseases. By receiving these vaccines, you pass on some temporary protection to your baby until they are old enough to get vaccinated.
Pregnant individuals between 32 to 36 weeks gestation, from September through January, are advised to get the RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) vaccine. According to the CDC, the vaccine can reduce a baby’s risk of being hospitalized from RSV by 57% in the first six months after birth. RSV, more prevalent in fall and winter, can be particularly harmful to babies and young children and is a leading cause of hospitalization among infants in the U.S.
It’s especially important for adults with chronic health conditions—such as COPD, asthma, heart disease, or diabetes—to stay informed about and receive vaccines that are specifically recommended for their condition, in addition to standard adult vaccines. Due to the higher risk of serious problems or complications from certain vaccine-preventable diseases associated with these conditions, you may require additional vaccinations beyond the typical adult schedule. Therefore, it's crucial to have a conversation with your doctor about which specific vaccines are recommended for you, based on your individual health needs.
If you work directly with patients or handle materials that could spread infection, you should get appropriate vaccines to reduce the chance that you will get or spread vaccine-preventable diseases. All healthcare workers should make sure they’re up to date on these vaccines: COVID-19 vaccine, Chickenpox vaccine (varicella), Flu vaccine (influenza), Hepatitis B vaccine, Meningococcal vaccine – especially lab workers who work with Neisseria meningitidis, MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, and rubella), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough) or Td (tetanus and diphtheria). You may need other vaccines, too. Talk with your doctor to learn which vaccines are recommended for you.
If you plan to travel outside the country, you may need immunizations to protect yourself against diseases that aren’t common in the United States. Start planning early and follow these tips:
Make sure you are up-to-date on recommended vaccines. Talk with your health care provider and get any vaccines that you may have missed.
Learn about the recommended and required vaccines for the locations you will be visiting. This resource also has tips on staying safe and healthy on your trip.
Don’t wait and make an appointment as soon as possible. Plan to get vaccinated at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip. This will give you time to build up immunity and get the best protection.
Where to Get Vaccinated & What They Cost
You can get vaccinated at your primary care office, OB-GYN, or pharmacy. In Vermont, the Health Department provides all recommended adult vaccines to primary care providers, free of charge. Providers may charge a small fee to administer vaccines, which is typically covered by insurance. If you don’t have health insurance, you may be able to receive vaccines at no cost. Reach out to your local health office to learn more.
Please note that because Medicare does participate in the Vermont Vaccine Program, state-supplied vaccines are not available for those 65 and older. If you are in this age group, please consult your health care provider or local pharmacy for vaccination options.
Your health care provider should be able to provide an up-to-date copy of your vaccination records. All vaccines given should be recorded by your health care provider in the Vermont Immunization Registry, regardless of where you were vaccinated. You can also contact the Immunization Registry User Support for your vaccination records: 888-688-4667 or IMR@vermont.gov.
Safety, Effectiveness, and How They Work
It’s normal to have questions about vaccine safety, effectiveness, and how they work.
Vaccines are safe.
The United States has the safest, most effective vaccine supply in its history. Scientists ensure the safety of vaccines by conducting different types of studies like clinical trials before the vaccine is made available and safety studies after the vaccine is approved and in use.
The Vermont Health Department also works with health care providers on vaccine handling and storage, record keeping, informing Vermonters about risks and benefits and reporting reactions, if they happen.
Like any medicine, vaccines can sometimes cause side effects. Most of the time, they are mild – like fever, tiredness, body aches, redness, or swelling and tenderness where the shot was given. Mild reactions usually go away on their own within a few days.
Serious reactions are extremely rare. The risk of vaccine side effects is far lower than the risk of serious illness from getting the diseases vaccines prevent. Vaccine information sheets describe the benefits and risks of each vaccine. You may wish to review this information before your appointment. Your health care provider will also give you a sheet for each vaccine.
Vaccines are effective.
Vaccines have saved lives for over 100 years. They have greatly reduced diseases that once routinely harmed or killed babies, children, and adults. People all over the world still become seriously ill, or even die, from diseases that vaccines can help prevent.
It is better to get vaccinated rather than relying on natural immunity from having the disease. Vaccines are specifically designed to stimulate your immune system and provide protection against the disease without causing the actual illness. Relying on natural immunity means you would have to contract the disease, which can have serious health consequences and potentially lead to complications or even death. Additionally, natural immunity may not provide long-lasting protection, whereas vaccines can offer more durable immunity.
So how do they work?
Vaccines contain part of a germ (bacteria or virus) called an antigen, along with small amounts of other ingredients that make the vaccine or maintain its safety and effectiveness. Antigens tell the body to produce an immune response to protect itself against infection. The antigen used in vaccines has been killed or weakened before it's used to make the vaccine, so it can't give you the disease it is protecting you from. Antigens tell the body to produce an immune response to protect itself against infection, and importantly, this process also involves your body 'remembering' how to fight off these invaders. This immunological memory means that if you encounter the same virus in the future, your body is better prepared and can respond more rapidly and effectively to protect you from the illness.