New Year’s Self-Care Resolution: When to Schedule Routine Screenings and Vaccinations

Start here for a list, based on age, of what shots and tests to get this year.


Our health should be our main priority in life. Our bodies are our vessels and there is only one of us to go around. Though we all know this, self-care seems to be put on the back burner more often than not.

One portion of self-care involves keeping up to date with routine health screenings, including vaccinations. As we age, our immunity to certain vaccinations wanes.

“Adults need to continue getting vaccinated because the immunity obtained from vaccines received during childhood can lessen with time. Every adult needs a tetanus booster every 10 years and an annual influenza vaccine. There may be additional vaccines recommended depending upon your age, specific medical conditions and special situations, such as pregnancy. 

Please refer to the CDC’s vaccination schedules for adults and consult with your provider to learn more,” notes Dr. Johanna Vidal-Phelan, UPMC Health Plan’s medical director, quality.

Two important vaccines to keep in mind include shingles and pneumococcal pneumonia. Men and women ages 50 and older should receive a shingles vaccine, or those 19 and older with weakened immune systems. Shingles is a painful, viral infection caused by the chickenpox virus that affects the nerves.

Men and women ages 65 and older should receive the pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine, or anyone ages 2 and older with certain medical conditions that put them at a higher risk of developing pneumonia.

Seeing your primary care physician regularly can help with discussion of routine health maintenance, care for chronic diseases and evaluate and treat any concerns you might have, according to UPMC Health Beat.

“A primary care provider should be someone you visit at least once a year for your physical exam, even if you are feeling healthy,” says Erin Shaffer, DO, a family medicine doctor with Heritage Primary Care in Waterford, Erie County, in the UPMC Health Beat article. “We enjoy getting to see and know our patients. The better we know you and your goals for your life, the easier it is to make medical decisions together.”

If you do not have a primary care provider, Dr. Shaffer recommends talking with family and friends or consulting online reviews to find a provider who fits your lifestyle.

“The patient-physician relationship is a very important one,” she says. “You want a physician who you are comfortable with and who listens to you. If you meet with a primary care provider and feel they are not the right provider for you, it is OK to let them know or find another primary care provider. Your health is very important, so you want someone you feel confident in and can trust.”

Routine health screenings can help to detect conditions such as high blood pressure or cholesterol and diabetes.

Men and women should see their doctors for the following screenings, according to MedlinePlus:

  • Blood pressure, every 3 to 5 years if in the normal range or once a year if it registers as high, or if you have certain conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems or are overweight.
  • Cholesterol — at age 45 for men and women with no known risk factors for coronary heart disease or age 20 for men and women with known risk factors for the disease. Repeat screenings for normal cholesterol levels should be done every five years, or more often with lifestyle changes, such as weight gain and diet, or if you have certain conditions.
  • Screen for diabetes starting at age 35 and repeated every three years if you have no risk factors for diabetes. Screening should occur more frequently if you have a first-degree relative with diabetes, you are overweight, have high blood pressure, etc.
  • Dental exams should be done twice a year for a checkup and cleaning. Poor oral health can contribute to other diseases in the body, such as cardiovascular disease and even pregnancy and birth complications.
  • Eye exams should be done once every two to four years for adults ages 40 to 54, and once every one to three years in adults ages 55 to 64, or more often if recommended.
  • All adults ages 18 to 79 should get a one-time hepatitis C test, as well as once every pregnancy.
  • All adults ages 15 to 65 should get a one-time test for HIV
  • Depending on your lifestyle and medical history, you may need to be screened for infections such as syphilis, chlamydia and other infections.
  • Screenings for skin cancer and colon cancer. Men and women should be checked for skin cancer risks every three years between ages 20 and 40, and annually after age 40. Men and women aged 45 to 75 should be routinely screened for colorectal cancer. 
  • Men and women between the ages of 50 and 80 with a history of smoking should be screened annually for lung cancer.
  • Men and women between the ages of 50 and 70 should also consult with their physician about screenings for osteoporosis, a disease in which bones lose density. Men who are age 65 and older, and are current or former smokers should also receive abdominal aortic aneurysm screenings.
  • Men should receive routine testicular exams, and prostate cancer screenings if you are between the ages of 55 and 69, or more often if you are at risk of developing prostate cancer.
  • Women should be routinely screened for breast cancer and cervical cancer. Clinical breast exams should be conducted at routine gynecological exams, and annual mammograms are recommended to begin at age 40, unless at high risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Cervical cancer screenings for women should be done during routine gynecological exams, starting at age 21.

For more information on well visits and routine screenings, visit UPMC Health Plan here

Categories: BeWell