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Adults Not Getting Recommended Vaccinations


Have you received all of your recommended vaccinations? If you are older than 18, chances are you have not gotten your recommended vaccination for tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough (Td/Tdap), nor the human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV). If you are older than 65, you may be among the one-third of your peers who did not get vaccinated against pneumonia.

It seems that adults are much better at making sure their children get their recommended vaccinations than they are at lining up for their own. According to a new report issued by the Trust for America’s Health, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 33.1 percent of adults ages 65 and older did not get vaccinated against pneumonia in 2008, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all seniors receive the vaccination. The area with the worst pneumonia vaccination record was Washington, D.C., with 45.6 percent of seniors not immunized. Oregon seniors had the best record, with 26.8 percent avoiding the vaccine.

The new report, entitled Adult Immunization: Shots to Save Lives, notes that an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 adults in the United States die each year from illnesses that could have been prevented if they had gotten their routine and recommended vaccinations. Compared with the pneumonia vaccine figures, the report shows that 90 percent of eligible adult women have not had their HPV vaccine, and 97.9 percent of eligible adults had shunned their tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough vaccine in the previous two years. Adults also avoided their seasonal flu vaccine in 2008, with 63.9 percent not being vaccinated.

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The report addressed the reasons why so many adults fail to get their recommended vaccinations. Some of them include: failure of insurance to cover the cost of vaccines, most adults do not work in places that require vaccinations, many adults do not believe vaccines are safe or effective, and many adults who do not have health insurance cannot afford vaccines.

To overcome these obstacles, the authors of the report recommend that health insurance, including Medicare, cover the cost of vaccines; that doctors offer vaccines during regular exams and screenings; that the public be educated about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines; and that vaccines be covered for adults who do not have health insurance.

The public can access the report on adult vaccinations on the Trust for America’s Health website. A complete schedule of recommended vaccinations for adults can be seen on the CDC website.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Trust for America’s Health website