Adult Vaccination Rates Too Low

While plenty of people rushed out to get the flu vaccine when the epidemic hit this winter, that's not the only vaccine adults should be getting. However, the current rate of vaccination among U.S. adults is still far too low, according to a CDC report.

The flu is still hitting the U.S., and while people rushed to get the flu vaccine, a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the current adult vaccination rate is too low.

According to the report, far too few adults are being vaccinated against diseases such as whooping cough, shingles, Tdap — which includes tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis — and the human papilloma virus (HPV).

“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, MD, an assistant secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a telebriefing on the report.

Despite an increase in vaccine coverage for Tdap and HPV from 2010 to 2011, coverage for all vaccines in the report was below 30% of the adult population.

In the case of shingles, 50% of people who live to the age of 85 will develop the disease, according to Carolyn Bridges, MD, of the CDC. However, slightly less than 16% of adults age 60 and older reported receiving the zoster vaccine.

“People sometimes like to wait to get vaccines until they hear about outbreaks of vaccines like pertussis or flu in their state or community,” Bridges said in the briefing. “I want to stress it is important to be vaccinated before disease arrives to get the most benefit out of these vaccines.”

In 2011, there were 37,000 cases of pneumonia and 4,000 deaths. In 2012 there were 42,000 cases of whooping cough, the highest number in the U.S. since 1955.

“Go out there and know what vaccines you need to not only protect yourselves, but the people around you,” Bridges said.