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Recommended vaccines for adults

Date last reviewed: 
Wednesday, Jul 17, 2024
Immunizations help you stay healthy throughout your life.
Keeping up to date with your immunizations as an adult is the best way to protect yourself from certain diseases and helps you stay healthy throughout your life. When you get immunized, you help protect others, too. 
 
Review the sections below to learn about the vaccines recommended for adults. Some of these vaccines are free, and others you may need to buy. 
Information

Immunization records

Note: In this section, "health care provider" refers to doctor, nurse practitioner, public health nurse, community health nurse, primary care nurse, or pharmacist. 
 

Vaccines recommended for all adults 

The following vaccines are recommended for all adults at certain times of their lives. Click in the tabs to learn more. 
 
COVID-19 vaccine
 
For COVID-19 vaccine recommendations, see our COVID-19 vaccine page. This vaccine is free for all adults.
 
Influenza (flu) vaccine
 
It's recommended adults get a flu vaccine every year. This vaccine is free for all adults.
 
Tetanus and diphtheria (Td) vaccine
 
A booster dose of the Td (tetanus and diphtheria) vaccine is recommended every 10 years. This vaccine is free. 
 
Pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine
 
It's recommended adults get a booster dose of the pertussis vaccine (given as the Tdap vaccine) once in adulthood. Most adults will have to buy this vaccine. However, it is free for:
 
  • Pregnant people (*recommended in every pregnancy).
  • Adults who have not been fully immunized or whose immunization history is unknown.
Shingles vaccine

The shingles vaccine, Shingrix®, is recommended for those 50 and older. You need to buy this vaccine; some health plans cover the cost of this vaccine. 
 
Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine

The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is recommended for those 65 and older. This vaccine is free. 
 
Information

Get immunized

Vaccines that may be recommended for you 

Other vaccines may be recommended for you, too. Review the tabs below to learn about vaccine recommendations based on:
 

Age

19 to 49 years
 
Every year:
 
Every 10 years:
 
At least once in adulthood:
 
You should also make sure you are up to date on these vaccines: 
 
Talk to a health care provider to find out if you have all the vaccines you need. 
 
 
For COVID-19 vaccine recommendations, see our COVID-19 vaccine page
 
50 to 64 years
 
Every year:
 
Every 10 years:
 
At least once in adulthood:
 
Once you turn 50:
 
  • Shingles vaccine – you need to buy this vaccine; some health plans cover the cost of this vaccine. 
You should also make sure you are up to date on these vaccines:
 
Talk to a health care provider to find out if you have all the vaccines you need. 
 
 
For COVID-19 vaccine recommendations, see our COVID-19 vaccine page
 
65 years and older
 
Every year:
 
Every 10 years:
 
At least once in adulthood:
 
Once you turn 50:
 
  • Shingles vaccine – you need to buy this vaccine; some health plans cover the cost of this vaccine.
At 65 years or older: 
 
You should also make sure you are up to date on these vaccines: 
 
  • Chickenpox vaccine  – free for adults who have not had the vaccine or disease. Most Canadian adults will have had the disease. 
For COVID-19 vaccine recommendations, see our COVID-19 vaccine page
 
Talk to a health care provider to find out if you have all the vaccines you need. 
 
 

Life events, job, and travel

Pregnancy
 
The following vaccines are recommended for pregnant people:
 
These vaccines are free for pregnant people.
 
Other vaccines may be recommended in certain situations, such as when travelling or if you are at high risk for certain diseases. Some of these vaccines are free, and others you may need to buy. 
 
Check with your health care provider to ensure you have received all recommended vaccines.
 
It's also recommended that pregnant people talk to their health care provider about the RSV vaccine.
 
 
Job
 
Specific vaccines may be recommended for you based on your job, especially if you work (or are training to work) in health care, the military, a laboratory, in childcare, with animals, or if you handle food. 
 

Health care workers

 
Health care workers are at risk of exposure to communicable diseases while at work because of their contact with patients or infectious material from patients. 
 
Health care workers should make sure they are up to date on all routine vaccines. They should also get the following vaccines if they are not already up to date:
 
Check with a health care provider to ensure you have received all the recommended vaccines. 
 
*A health care worker includes people who provide health care to patients or work in institutions that provide patient care. 
 

Other workers

 
Employees in various workplaces may be exposed to vaccine-preventable diseases. It’s important that all workers are up to date on their routine vaccines, including their yearly influenza vaccine. 
 
If your job puts you at risk of getting or spreading diseases, you might need extra vaccines. This is especially important for people who work in the military, in the laboratory, with animals, or who handle food.
 
Talk to a health care provider and/or your employer to see what vaccines are recommended for you and if they are free. Vaccines that aren’t free may be covered by your employer. 
 
International travellers
 
Before you travel to other countries, plan ahead to get all the vaccines you need. Talk to your health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably 6 weeks before you travel. This is important because some vaccines may take several weeks to become fully effective, and others may require more than 1 dose. You will need to buy most vaccines for travel. 
 
The vaccines you need are based on:
 
  • Where you are going.
  • The type of travel and length of your trip. 
  • What vaccines you’ve already received.

Here are some examples of vaccines that may be recommended or, in some cases, required for travel to certain countries:

For more information on travel vaccines see: Before you travel.
 
Adults new to Canada
 
If you've just moved to Canada, it's important to make sure you have received all the vaccines recommended for adults in BC. These vaccines might be different from those recommended in your home country. 
 
Take your immunization record to your local health unit, community health centre, primary care clinic, or nursing station to be checked to see if you are up to date on routine vaccines. If you don’t have a vaccine record, it's still important to speak with a health care provider about what vaccines are recommended. If you are missing any recommended vaccines, you can receive these from a pharmacy or your local health unit, community health centre, primary care clinic, or nursing station. Some doctors and nurse practitioners also give vaccines.  
 
Residents of Extended or Intermediate Care Facilities
 
People living in Extended or Intermediate Care Facilities should make sure all of their routine immunizations are up to date. In addition, it is recommended that people who live in these facilities receive the following vaccines:
 
Check with a health care provider to ensure you have received all recommended vaccines.
 
 

Health conditions

Immunocompromising conditions
 
Vaccines are especially important for people with conditions that weaken the immune system or who take medications that suppress their immune system. Having a weakened immune system means it is more difficult to fight off infections or diseases in the body. In addition to vaccines recommended for all adults, other vaccines may be recommended and free for you depending on your condition, including:
 
Check with a health care provider to ensure you have received all recommended vaccines.
 
Other health conditions
 
People with conditions such as diabetes, heart, or lung disease are at higher risk for serious problems or complications from certain vaccine-preventable diseases. In addition to vaccines recommended for all adults, these other vaccines may be recommended and free for you depending on your health condition:
 
Check with a health care provider to ensure you have received all recommended vaccines.
 
 

Other factors

Men who have sex with men
 
In addition to routine vaccines, the following vaccines are also recommended for men who have sex with men: 
 

Check with a health care provider to ensure you have received all recommended vaccines.

People who have multiple sexual partners
 
In addition to routine vaccines, the following vaccines are recommended for people with multiple sex partners:
 

Check with a health care provider to ensure you have received all recommended vaccines.

People who use illicit drugs

In addition to routine vaccines, the following vaccines are recommended for people who use illicit drugs:
 

Check with a health care provider to ensure you have received all recommended vaccines.

People experiencing homelessness
 
In addition to routine vaccines, the following vaccine is recommended for people experiencing homelessness:
 
Check with a health care provider to ensure you have received all recommended vaccines.
 
 

Vaccines available for purchase

Vaccines for extra protection
 
Talk to a health care provider about additional vaccines you can buy for extra protection, including: 
 
You can buy these vaccines at pharmacies and travel clinics. Depending on your age or other factors, some might be free. Some health insurance plans may cover the cost of these vaccines; check with your insurance provider. 
 
Ask a health care provider if extra protection is important for you and your family.
 
Information

Nervous about vaccinations?

Frequently asked questions

Where can adults get vaccinated?
 
Adults can get free vaccines (paid for by the BC government) from:
 

Services vary across BC. Call to ask about vaccine availability. 

Vaccines that are not free can be purchased at:

 
How much do vaccines cost?
 
Many vaccines are provided free to the public by the BC Government. The cost of vaccines you need to buy ranges from about $60 to $200 per dose (multiple doses may be required in a vaccine series).  There may be extra fees for consultation, dispensing, and injecting. Vaccine costs vary throughout the province for the various types of vaccines, depending on where you get them. Some health insurance plans cover the costs of vaccines; check with your insurance provider.
 
Will my health plan cover the cost of the vaccines I have to buy?
 
An insurance company will have various plans, and your coverage will depend on the policy provided by an employer or other provider or that you may have paid for yourself. Here is some information to get you started: 
 
  • Neither MSP nor Pharmacare covers vaccines that the BC government doesn’t fund.
  • Vaccines may be covered by an extended benefits plan from a private insurance agency. You should obtain the DIN (Drug Identification Number) from a pharmacy, then contact your private insurance agency to find out about this aspect of medical coverage.
  • Government or private sector employees may have vaccine coverage in their benefits package. If this is your situation, check with your Human Resources Department (or equivalent in smaller organizations).
  • If you are attending a post-secondary institution, some institutions provide some vaccines as part of the student health plan. Check with Student Health Services on campus. If more than one dose is required, Student Health Services can schedule the vaccines to be given over different years of the plan to maximize the plan’s value.
Why aren’t all vaccines free for the public? 
 
In BC, the Ministry of Health makes decisions to fund vaccine programs based on recommendations from the Communicable Disease Policy Advisory Committee. This expert scientific committee looks at the following: 
 
  • Statements issued by Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization.
  • The published literature (studies about certain vaccines and diseases).
  • The product monograph (information about the vaccine from the manufacturer).
  • Local epidemiology (how often the disease occurs in different groups of people in the province).
  • Available health economic analyses (an analysis of the costs and benefits of the vaccine).
Recommendations for new vaccine programs are then prioritized with other public health initiatives. As a result, not all vaccines approved for use in Canada are funded by the provincial government. People may choose to buy vaccines for extra protection.