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Women Veterans Health Care

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Vaccines and Immunizations

Vaccines save millions of lives around the world every year.* They are an important part of your overall health because they build your natural defenses.

When you get a vaccine for something contagious (like the flu or COVID-19), you are not only protecting yourself, but you're protecting those around you and those you love.

What is a vaccine?

In addition to preventing serious illness, vaccines can also lower your risk of other diseases.* VA National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention offers a list of vaccines recommended for women, but some of the most common vaccines include:

  • COVID-19: COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that spreads easily. It can be life-threatening in people with other conditions, such as people with heart disease or poor immune systems. COVID vaccines are recomend for all adults, especially if you are pregnant or planning pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers the most recent recommendations*
  • Flu: Influenza, or the flu, is a viral condition that can affect all women, especially older women. The vaccine, needed yearly, can prevent the flu and its complications, such as bacterial pneumonia which is an infection in the lungs. *
    • Getting a flu shot while you are pregnant can protect your newborn by giving them immunity from the flu for the first 6 months of life.
  • Human papillomavirus vaccination (HPV): HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection that is spread through skin-to-skin contact. It can lead to some cancers, such as cervical or vaginal cancer.* All women through age 26 and some older women should receive this vaccine. *
  • Pneumococcal pneumonia: This vaccine can prevent a serious infection in the lungs that can lead to complications like blocked airways or an infection around the heart. It is recommended for women aged 65 and older and for those younger than 65 with chronic conditions. *
  • RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus): The RSV vaccine can prevent lower respiratory tract disease caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

    If you are a Veteran who is 60 years and older, talk with your health care provider about whether RSV vaccination is right for you, especially if you have an underlying medical condition that may put you at higher risk for severe RSV infection.

    Pregnant Veterans should get a single dose of Pfizer's bivalent RSVpreF vaccine (Abrysvo) during weeks 32 through 36 of pregnancy during September through January. RSV season is likely to be different for people living in Alaska, parts of Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Guam, and the U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands. If you live in Alaska, Florida, or outside the continental U.S., talk to your healthcare provider about when RSV season is expected where you live, so that your infant can be protected against RSV disease.
  • Shingles: Shingles is a painful skin rash caused by the same virus as chicken pox. Women aged 50 and older should receive this vaccine, which requires 2 shots, 2-6 months apart. *
  • Tdap: The Tdap protects against three diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough.* Most women should get a booster every 10 years.* It is especially recommended for women who are pregnant or may come in contact with young children who are not yet vaccinated against pertussis (whooping cough).

Other vaccines may be recommended depending on your age and health.

Talk to your VA primary care provider about what vaccines are recommended for you. Preventing a disease is always better than treating a disease. Illnesses such as the flu or COVID-19 can cause long-term problems.

How do I access services for vaccines and immunizations at VA?

Discuss the vaccines you may need with your VA primary care provider. They can give you the vaccine or refer you to a facility that can.

If you don't already use VA health care, you may want to use the following online tools:

Find out if you are eligible for VA health care

Enroll in VA health care if you haven't already

Find your local VA and make an appointment

Where can I find more information, help, and resources on vaccines, and immunizations?

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The Women Veterans Call Center is your guide to women's health

If you have questions or can't find what you're looking for, you can call, text, or chat online with the Women Veterans Call Center (WVCC) at 855-829-6636 to get help and find available resources and services in your area. Trained women representatives can also:

  • Provide you with information on enrolling in VA health care if you have not already
  • Provide you with information on setting up a medical appointment in your area
  • Provide you with information about your eligibility (including questions about disability ratings) and other VA benefits like employment, education, and home loans
  • Connect you with your local VA Medical Center or local women's health contact who can assist in coordinating all the services you need

WVCC representatives are available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET, and Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET.

* By clicking on these links, you will leave the Department of Veterans Affairs website.
† VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked website.

The Women Veterans Call Center is your guide to VA. The Women Veterans Call Center is your guide to VA.
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Saturday: 8:00 am–6:30 pm ET