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Importance of Immunizations Across the Lifespan

April 3, 2012

Until this past year, I can only remember one occasion where a doctor had ever suggested I consider an adult immunization.  So while we place a great deal of emphasis on our children and their routine immunizations, it has occurred to me that adult immunizations are often overlooked.

In a recent article that appeared in BeWellPhilly, it is suggested that adult immunization discussions are important for two major reasons.   

“The first is that adults often forget the importance of health maintenance. After people reach a certain age, it’s easy to skip that annual checkup when no one is forcing them to stay on top of their health. Adults have a poor vaccination rate because they rarely seek it out, and this is something that needs to change since they can still be prone to diseases.

The second reason is a much less selfish one. If adults become sick, they are often in a healthy position to fight something, but the very young and the very old are in a much more vulnerable state. An unprotected adult might do fine, but could pass along something to a child or elderly person that could be very detrimental or even fatal.”

I was even surprised to discover these references made in another medical forum recently, which claimed that

“More adults die of vaccine-preventable disease in North America than from colorectal cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer or car accidents.”

and a suggestion that

“More than 40,000 adults a year die from diseases they could avoid with a simple shot. (Avoiding these diseases also means less risk of heart attack and stroke.)”

Adding to these health concerns, there is also an economic impact to consider.  Just last week, in a recent study released by The Michigan Primary Care Consortium, entitled “The Business Case for Full Adult Immunization in Michigan,” it was reported that improper immunization among adults has cost the state economy nearly $495 million a year from emergency room visits, specialty medical care, lost productivity and absenteeism.

Yet, it was determined that

“for every $1 spent on adult immunizations, nearly $20 are saved in the workplace and on hospital stays, physician visits, and other more expensive and lengthy treatments for patients who have contracted diseases that would have been easily prevented with simple, low-cost vaccinations. “

Even Savy Seniors are asked to consider a number of different immunizations that are currently recommended by the CDC for people 50 years of age and older, including influenza, pneumococcal, zoster (shingles), Tdap (tetanus-diptheria-pertussis), MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and meningitis to name but a few.

As Dr. Deborah Wexler of the Immunization Action Coalition explains in an interview on KARE 11 News @4, adults are often behind on vaccinations and it’s time they take responsibility for themselves and learn about what vaccines they need to help prevent disease.

 

We can start by taking this clever CDC quiz, “What Vaccines Do You Need?” and then discussing these vaccines with a health care provider or local health clinic to determine which immunizations would be beneficial for us based on our age.

Considering the fact that adult immunizations can not only prevent death and disease, but also save us money, perhaps in addition to our “Vaccinate Your Baby” efforts, there should be more concentrated efforts to achieve “Vaccination Across the Lifespan”.

  1. Snoozie
    April 4, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Thank you for this post! I took the quiz and was happy to discover that I am completely up-to-date, just as I had thought. It is easy to assume our doctors are checking our immunization status the way our pediatricians check on our children, but too often adult immunizations are easily overlooked. When it comes to immunizations, adults need to take responsibility for their health by taking initiative. I have found that doctors are always more than happy to discuss vaccines with adult patients.

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