How Long Does Immunity from Vaccines Last?

Most vaccines provide long lasting protection.
Most vaccines provide long-lasting protection. Photo courtesy of Judy Schmidt and James Gathany.

One of the benefits of natural immunity is that after you get sick with a disease, you get life long immunity.

At least usually.

It is often a surprise to some people that some diseases don’t give life long immunity, most notably pertussis infections and tetanus, which typically doesn’t give any natural immunity at all.

How Long Does Immunity from Vaccines Last?

What about vaccines?

Do you get life long immunity after vaccines?

If you know about the issues of waning immunity with some vaccines, then you already know the answer. And even if you didn’t know that immunity from the mumps and pertussis vaccines can wear off, then you likely do know that you need a tetanus booster every 10 years, so that vaccine doesn’t give life long immunity.

How long is the protection from other vaccines?

  • the measles vaccine provides protection for at least 35 years
  • the hepatitis B vaccine provides protection for at least 20 years
  • the hepatitis A vaccine provides protection for at least 14 years
  • the chicken pox vaccine provides protection for at least 20 years
  • both the oral and inactivated polio vaccines provide long lasting protection
  • the rubella vaccine provides protection for at least 21 years
  • Gardasil provides protection for at least 8 years
  • the Hib vaccine provides protection for at least 9 years
  • like tetanus, the diphtheria vaccine provides protection for at about 10 years
  • the pneumococcal vaccine (Prevnar) provides protection for at least 5 years

Why do we say “at least” in so many cases?

In general, that’s how long these vaccines have been around. As time goes by, we will hopefully find that they last much longer.

What To Know About the Duration of Protection from Vaccines

Although some vaccines require boosters, most vaccines provide long-lasting protection.

More Information About Duration of Protection from Vaccines

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23 thoughts on “How Long Does Immunity from Vaccines Last?

  1. Why are there not mass outbreaks amongst adults if the vaccines given as children are no longer effective.

  2. Confused… I just picked one at random… Varicella (Chicken Pox)… You wrote “the chicken pox vaccine provides protection for at least 20 years”…

    but the link you provided to the CDC’s Varicella page say

    1. “It is not known how long a vaccinated person is protected against varicella”.

    2. “A case-control study conducted from 1997 to 2003 showed that 1 dose of varicella vaccine was 97% effective in the first year after vaccination and 86% effective in the second year. From the second to eighth year after vaccination, the vaccine effectiveness remained stable at 81 to 86%. Most vaccinated children who developed varicella during the 8 years after vaccination had mild disease.”

    Note about this CDC provided study: The reason why this study was conducted to begin with is in the context of the study…
    “CONTEXT: Reports of outbreaks of varicella in highly immunized groups have increased concern about the effectiveness of varicella vaccine.”

    3. “A clinical trial showed that children with 2 doses of varicella vaccine were protected 10 years after being vaccinated.”

    So what is it… unknown, 8 years, 10 years, 20 years??? Do we believe you, the CDC, the studies that aren’t too sure?

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