Adult Vaccination Rates Show Room for Improvement
Jan 29, 2013

The CDC has released a lot of information this week.
Yesterday they released the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) Recommended Immunization Schedule for Persons Aged 0 Through 18 Years, as well as the Recommended Immunization Schedule for Adults Aged 19 Years and Older.  The details, available in yesterday’s MMWR, include a new streamlined format, specifics regarding catch up schedules and clarification of the many footnotes that are included on the schedule.  To discover how you can use content syndication to ensure that the schedule you are referring to on your own website is always up-to-date, access the full report here.
On the heels of that report, the CDC hosted a telebriefing today to provide details regarding the number of U.S. adults who received recommended vaccines other than the flu vaccine in 2011. The early release MMWR report, entitled “Noninfluenza Vaccination Coverage Among Adults – United States, 2011” can be found here.

Some of the key points they highlighted regarding adult vaccination rates were as follows:

Current data shows that although there have been modest gains in coverage of the Tdap and HPV vaccines in adults, far too few adults are being vaccinated against important diseases, leaving themselves and those around them at greater risk for vaccine-preventable diseases. Pneumococcal disease and pertussis are two examples of cases where too many Americans do not get the preventative care they need when it comes to vaccines.

  • In 2011, there were 37,000 cases resulting in 4,000 deaths from pneumococcal disease.
  • Current data estimates that over 9,300 cases of pertussis were seen in adults in 2012, coming to nearly 42,000 cases in total, which is the highest number of cases seen in the U.S. since 1955.
  • In cases where the source was identified, four out of five babies who contracted whooping cough caught it from someone in their home.

According to the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the 2011 estimates of adult vaccine uptake noted that the number of adults receiving their recommended vaccines remains much too low and there continues to be racial disparities in coverage. The highlighted findings were as follows:

  • Pneumococcal vaccination coverage: Among adults 65 and older, coverage was 62%. For certain at-risk adults ages 19-64, coverage was only 20%.
  • Tdap vaccination coverage: Not quite 13% of adults reported receiving a Tdap vaccine. The number of adults living with an infant who had received the vaccine was only 22%.
  • HPV vaccine: During 2011, nearly 30% of women received the vaccine, with coverage for Hispanic women lagging behind at 20%.  Males, who had only just begun to receive the recommended vaccine in late 2011 were only slightly over 2%.
  • Shingles: The percent of adults who received the vaccine increased, however the number was still rather low at just under 16% in 2011.

The CDC will have the complete recorded briefing available here.
I found it rather ironic that earlier today I was reading about a recent study on the prevalence of rotavirus.  It explained how an uptake in childhood rotavirus vaccination has helped decrease the incidence of rotavirus in the unvaccinated adult population.  Now I’m left wondering…if we could just encourage more adults to get their vaccines – especially their Tdap boosters – how much childhood illness could we possibly prevent over the years?
Recently I’ve discovered that although many people acknowledge the importance of vaccinating children, they don’t always realize that immunizations are recommended for adults as well.    Personally I’ve had several conversations in the past few months in which I’ve informed others, my age and older, about specific adult vaccines.  I have found that most people are quite receptive to the idea of getting vaccinated once they understand that adult vaccination can help them to prevent certain diseases.
Now I can also refer them to a newly unveiled website from the CDC, available at, which will help adults learn more about the various diseases that threaten them and the vaccines that are recommended to address them.  There is even a section that helps identify where to access adult vaccines, as well as information on how to get them paid for and specifics regarding travel vaccines. This is just one way that the CDC is reaching out to adults to emphasize the importance of immunizations through every stage of life.  Now, I ask that we all do our part to help the CDC in these efforts and try to boost adult vaccination rates.

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