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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 recommended can help prevent the spread of these diseases.

Specific vaccine recommendations vary 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 can be prevented by following the CDC guidelines for vaccines:

  • Diphtheria. This is a serious disease caused by a poison (toxin) made by bacteria. It causes severe breathing problems and can be fatal.

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

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

  • Hepatitis 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 from weeks to months. Hepatitis B is more severe than hepatitis A because hepatitis B can become long-term (chronic). This can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. 

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV). This is a very common sexually transmitted disease. It can cause genital warts (condylomas). It can lead to cervical cancer and other less common but serious cancers.

  • Influenza (flu). This is a highly contagious disease that affects your lungs. It is caused by various strains of influenza viruses. 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 infection. It causes fever, cough, runny nose, and a rash all over the body.

  • Meningococcal meningitis. This is a severe infection of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord (meninges). It can be life-threatening. The disease is caused by a bacterial infection. 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 areas 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.

  • 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 permanent paralysis, usually 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 contractions of the muscles. 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. It is most common in children.

  • Zoster (shingles). 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 can remain in nerve cells. It can reappear years later in the form of shingles. 

Online Medical Reviewer: Lentnek, Arnold, MD, FACP
Online Medical Reviewer: Sather, Rita, RN
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2016
© 2000-2016 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.