Adenovirus Vaccine

What is adenovirus?

Adenoviruses are very common and come in many types. Depending on the virus type, adenoviruses can cause:

  • respiratory (breathing) problems that can include:
    • cough
    • fever
    • runny nose
  • headache
  • sore throat
  • eye infections

These symptoms can last up to 10 days.

Infection with adenovirus can also rarely lead to more serious problems, such as pneumonia, stomach and bowel problems, and even death. Some people who are infected may have to be hospitalized. Adenovirus infection can be spread from person to person through the air (for example, by sneezing or coughing). It can also be spread by personal contact, such as touching an infected person or handling objects that an infected person has touched. Two types of adenovirus (Type 4 and Type 7) have caused severe outbreaks of respiratory illness among military recruits.

Adenovirus vaccine

Adenovirus vaccine contains live adenovirus Type 4 and Type 7. It will prevent most illness caused by these two virus types. Adenovirus vaccine comes as two tablets, taken orally (by mouth) at the same time. The tablets should be swallowed whole, not chewed or crushed. Adenovirus vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines.

Who should get adenovirus vaccine?

The vaccine is approved for military personnel 17 through 50 years of age. It is recommended by the Department of Defense for military recruits entering basic training. It may also be recommended for other military personnel at high risk for adenovirus infection.


Some people should not get adenovirus vaccine:

  • Anyone with a severe (life-threatening) allergy to any component of the vaccine. Tell the doctor if you have any severe allergies.
  • Pregnant women or nursing mothers.
  • Anyone who is unable to swallow the vaccine tablets whole without chewing them.
  • Anyone younger than 17 or older than 50 years of age.

Other precautions:

  • Talk with a doctor if:
    • you have HIV/AIDS or another disease that affects the immune system, or
    • your immune system is weakened because of:
      • cancer
      • other medical conditions
      • a transplant
      • radiation treatment
      • drug treatment (such as steroids or cancer chemotherapy).
  • Women should not become pregnant for 6 weeks following vaccination.
  • Vaccination should be postponed for anyone with vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Virus from the vaccine can be shed in the stool for up to 28 days after vaccination. To minimize the risk of spreading vaccine virus to other people during this period, observe proper personal hygiene, such as frequent hand washing, especially following bowel movements. This is especially important if you have close contact with children 7 years of age and younger, with anyone having a weakened immune system, or with pregnant women.

What are the risks from adenovirus vaccine?

A vaccine, like any medicine, could cause a serious reaction. But the risk of a vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small.

Mild problems

Several mild problems have been reported within 2 weeks of getting the vaccine:

  • headaches, upper respiratory tract infection (about 1 person in 3)
  • stuffy nose, sore throat, joint pain (about 1 person in 6)
  • abdominal pain, cough, nausea (about 1 person in 7)
  • diarrhea (about 1 person in 10)
  • fever (about 1 person in 100)

Serious problems

More serious problems have been reported by about 1 person in 100, within 6 months of vaccination. These problems included:

  • blood in the urine or stool
  • pneumonia
  • inflammation of the stomach or intestines

It is not clear whether these mild or serious problems were caused by the vaccine or occurred after vaccination by chance.

As with all vaccines, adenovirus vaccine will continue to be monitored for unexpected or severe problems.

What if there is a serious reaction?

What should I look for?

Look for any unusual condition, such as:

  • a high fever
  • severe stomach pain
  • diarrhea.

Signs of an allergic reaction can include:

  • difficulty breathing
  • hoarseness
  • wheezing
  • hives
  • paleness
  • weakness
  • a fast heartbeat
  • dizziness

within a few minutes to a few hours after swallowing the tablets.

What should I do?

  • If you think it is a severe allergic reaction or other emergency that can’t wait, call your local emergency service or get the person to the nearest hospital. Otherwise, call your doctor.


Adapted from Immunization Action Coalition, Vaccine Information Statements