If you grew up in New Jersey the chances are pretty good you got all the required vaccinations when you were a kid. But what should you be doing now that you’re an adult?

According to Dr. Meg Fisher, an infectious disease expert and the acting deputy commissioner of public health for New Jersey, shots you got as a child do require a follow-up.

Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis shots need to be updated every 10 years.

The human papillomavirus vaccine, which can protect against HPV infections that can cause cancer later in life, is recommended up through the age of 26. People older than that should talk to their doctor.

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Another vaccine now recommended for many adults is the hepatitis B vaccine but if you received it when you were a kid a booster shot is not necessary.

If you are planning an international trip, the hepatitis A vaccine might be a good idea, said Fisher.

“Hepatitis A vaccine you wouldn’t necessarily need in most parts of Europe, but you might need it for the Middle East or the Far East or South America or Africa," she said.

She noted children have been receiving hepatitis A vaccines for about the last 20 years, but older individuals may not have gotten the shot, and getting vaccinated now is certainly an option.

Close-up medical syringe with a vaccine.
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Is the chicken pox virus lurking within your body?

Fisher said if you had chicken pox as a child, you should get a shingles vaccine once you turn 50.

“Shingles is actually the chicken pox virus that’s been in your system that comes back again, reactivates and goes back out to your skin as that horrible rash,” she said.

She pointed out if never had chicken pox you don’t need the shingles vaccine.

Another shot recommended for everyone 65 and older is the vaccine that protects against pneumonia.

She pointed out if you had the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine as a child, it’s good for life, so you do not need to get a booster.

Another vaccine almost everyone got as a child is the polio vaccine, and Fisher said that also does not need a booster follow-up shot, but if there is any question about whether you were vaccinated or not you should get the shot now.

Protect yourself

Her advice to all New Jersey adults is to safeguard your health.

“The number of diseases we can protect you against now is a lot different that it was when you were young, so really check with your doctor,” she said.

“Prevention outweighs trying to treat someone every day of the week, so it’s much better if we can prevent these things. These vaccines are very safe, they’re very effective.”

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