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Most adults vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases

Most adults vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases

Vaccines aren’t just for kids. There are nearly a dozen recommended vaccines besides flu shots for grownups age 19 and older to protect against preventable diseases, such as pneumococcal disease, whooping cough, and shingles. But most adults aren’t getting their recommended vaccinations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC analyzed data for select vaccines (excluding influenza) from the National Health Interview Survey. The results indicate there has been little improvement in adult vaccinations in 2011 compared with 2010.

There have been only modest gains in women age 19 to 26 getting the human papillomavirus vaccine, and among adults overall getting the Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough). The findings were published this week in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

“In general, too few adults are taking advantage of the protection from vaccines, leaving themselves and those around them at greater risk of vaccine-preventable diseases,” Howard Koh, M.D., assistant secretary for health, at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, told reporters at a press conference.

Don’t wait to get vaccinated until you hear about outbreaks of disease, like pertusis, or flu, in your state or community, warned Carolyn Bridges, M.D., associate director for adult immunization at the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “I want to stress that it’s important to be vaccinated before disease arrives to get the most benefit out of these vaccines.” she said.

Bottom line: Some vaccines are recommended for all adults, others are recommended for people with certain medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, heart or lung disease, for example, so consult your health care provider about which vaccines you might need. You can also get more information from the CDC or its new adult vaccine finder, which shows where you can find establishments in your area that provide vaccinations. And learn more by reading our Chart of adult vaccinations.


Noninfluenza Vaccination Coverage Among Adults — United States, 2011 [Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report]

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