Routine vaccinations can save lives, yet millions of American adults are NOT getting them despite the recommendations of top medical experts.
Vaccine-preventable diseases kill more Americans every year than traffic accidents or breast cancer.
Immunizations can prevent:
• 40,000 deaths per year.
• Thousands of illnesses.
• $10 billion in health care costs.
• 36,000 — people die from seasonal flu.
• 5,000 — die from pneumonia.
• 1 million — suffer from shingles.
• 20 million — are infected with human papillomavirus and are at risk for cervical cancer.
• 800,000 — have chronic viral hepatitis B infection.
Yet, in 2007 only:
• 2 percent — of eligible adults, ages 18 to 64, received the tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough vaccine.
• 2 percent — of adults over age 60 received a shingles vaccine.
• 10 percent — of eligible adult women, ages 18 to 26, got the human papillomavirus vaccine.
• 36 percent — of adults were vaccinated for seasonal flu. In Kansas, it was 37 percent.
• 67 percent — of adults over 65 were immunized against pneumonia. Kansas ranked 32nd with 69 percent. CDC’s goal is 90 percent.
“Thousands of lives could be saved each year if we could increase the number of adults who receive routine and recommended vaccinations. To achieve that goal, we need a national strategy to make vaccines a regular part of medical care and to educate Americans about the effectiveness and safety of vaccines.”
— Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America’s Health
• Limited access. There is no institutionalized setting, like schools, where vaccines can be required.
• Limited care. Many adults don’t have a primary care doctor or get regular checkups, especially those who are uninsured. Often older adults see specialists who don’t focus on immunizations, such as cardiologists or neurologists. Also, adults often seek acute care and not preventive.
• Costs. Often health insurance doesn’t pay for vaccines.
• Misunderstanding. Many adults are misinformed about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.
• Lack of funding. Money for research, development and production has been limited, partly because there isn’t a market for it in the U.S. compared to other countries where the government pays for it.
• Close coverage gaps. Providers, including Medicare, should be required to offer full coverage for all recommended vaccines. Also, create a Vaccines for Uninsured Adults program.
• Public education. Provide health departments with more resources to increase awareness about safety and effectiveness.
• Standard care. Reviewing immunization records should be offered at appropriate medical encounters such as physicals, cancer screenings and pre-natal visits. This is expected to become easier with electronic medical records. Provide resources so doctors can get required software and staff training for immunizations.
• Funding. The National Institutes of Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and U.S. Food and Drug Administration need more resources for research, development and production.
We have extraordinarily high immunization rates in children. This is the product of a long-term commitment to deliver vaccine to children. We would like to extend this now beyond the 19th birthday.”
— Dr. William Schaffner, chair of the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s Immunization Work Group