Take Stock of Your Adult Immunization Schedule with Five Simple Evidence-based Questions

SBM: take-stock-of-your-adult-immunization-schedule-with-five-simple-evidence-based-questions

E. Susanne Blazek, PhD –Director of Behavioral Research, Behavioral Reinforcement Learning Lab, Lirio; Sarah Deedat, PhD –VP Behavioral Design, Behavioral Reinforcement Learning Lab, Lirio


Spring is officially here, and hopefully the end of winter respiratory illness season. This is the perfect time to take stock of your adult immunization schedule. The summer will come and go quickly, and you might want to make sure to get at least some vaccines before the next winter.

Our team at the Behavioral Reinforcement Learning Lab has been diving into some research across the U.S. and Canada, talking with thousands of adults. We're gathering insights that might just make your vaccine decisions a tad easier - like picking the right ones and knowing the best time to get them.

Most likely you are already receiving your annual influenza vaccine. You also likely receive COVID-19 boosters, on or off a schedule (most people should get a COVID-19 booster yearly). But now there are additional vaccines to consider. In 2023, the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) vaccine was approved by the FDA for all adults aged 60 and older. 

How to Maintain Your Adult Vaccine Schedule

Each year, you might have to plan for three vaccines to protect against all three common respiratory illnesses, often referred to as the “tripledemic.” This includes immunizations for COVID-19, influenza, and RSV.

Some adults ages 27 through 45 years might also decide to get the HPV vaccine based on discussion with their clinician, if they did not get adequately vaccinated when they were younger.

Additionally, if it has been more than 10 years since your last dose, you might consider a Tetatus and diptheria (Td) or Tetanus, diptheria, and pertussis (Tdap) booster.

If you have additional risk factors or other indications, you might consider vaccines for:

  • Shingles
  • Pneumonia
  • Pneumococcal
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Meningococcal A, C, W, and Y
  • Meningococcal B
  • Monkey pox

As you take stock of your adult immunization schedule, we suggest starting with these simple evidence-based questions.

1. How Many Vaccines Are You Comfortable Receiving at Once?

The long list of available and recommended vaccines might make you wonder if there’s a limit to how many vaccines you can get at once? The answer is “no”. Assuming you are overdue and willing, you can receive as many vaccines as you feel comfortable with at any time.

We find in our research that most adults are comfortable receiving two vaccines at the same time, ideally one in each arm. Many say that two at a time enables them to better understand which vaccine, if any, results in side effects. There is also a subset of adults who say they would receive three, four, or more vaccines at the same time.

2. Where Do You Prefer Obtaining Your Vaccines?

Obviously, getting more vaccines at once saves time and potentially also cost (if obtained at a primary care provider’s office). To further save time, most adults in our research prefer to get their vaccines at their local pharmacy, where they can get a vaccine appointment sooner and often outside normal business hours. Additionally, more people live closer to a pharmacy than to a health care facility or primary care provider’s office.

3. Who Do You Trust to Talk to About Your Vaccine Needs?

Most adults prefer to talk to their primary care provider, pharmacist, or other trusted resource about which vaccines are best for them. This is especially true in the case of new vaccines and vaccines that people have recently become eligible for. People also talk to family and friends, but expect less advice and recommendations from their loved ones.

4. Which Online Sources Can Provide You with More Information?

In the case of new vaccines, like the RSV vaccine, we recommend that people seek out rigorous and scientifically valid sources of information online like WebMD, Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, and official state websites like the Minnesota Department of Health and the Washington State Department of Health (the authors’ current home states).

In our research, we've had some deep conversations with adults from every corner of the U.S., and something interesting popped up: not a single one of them is turning to social media for their vaccine insights. They see all sorts of vaccine info in their social feeds, but when it's decision time about which vaccines to get and when, social media chatter doesn't make the cut. We certainly recommend taking the advice of a medical practitioner over information shared on social media, which may or may not be accurate.

5. If You Are on the Fence, When Can You Talk to Your Provider About What Works Best for You?

Vaccines are not for everyone. Some people can't get certain vaccines because of their health conditions or other medical reasons, which means it's not safe for them to get those shots. There is also a small group of people who feel various levels of vaccine hesitancy toward one or more vaccine.

However, our research indicates that people who feel hesitant against all vaccines are rare. Rather, people move in and out of their comfortability with vaccines depending on their familiarity with them, their providers’ recommendations, their family’s attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, and their own experiences with prior vaccination.

That means that if you are on the fence about a vaccine that is recommended for you, take the time to talk to your provider about it.


Vaccination can protect against getting serious diseases. Vaccinations also lower the chance that you will spread the disease to someone close to you. Start planning which vaccines you will get and when to stay ahead of next season’s respiratory illnesses. That way, you can fully enjoy the spring and summer ahead!

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