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Many Young Adults Uninformed About Vaccines
Date:7/22/2009

More awareness of benefits of shots for preventable diseases needed, study shows

WEDNESDAY, July 22 (HealthDay News) -- Vaccines are not only for children, but many young adults in the United States are unaware of the need to keep up with their shots, a new survey shows.

For example, while 84 percent of Americans over 50 know that tetanus causes lockjaw and that they need to get a new tetanus shot every 10 years, only 49 percent of adults aged 18 to 26 know this, according to a survey commissioned by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID).

"Over 50,000 adults die in the United States each year as the result of diseases that are potentially vaccine-preventable," Dr. William Schaffner, NFID president-elect, said during a Wednesday morning news conference.

"Many millions more become sick and require hospitalization and medical care," Schaffner added. "Some may pass these illnesses on to others. The survey revealed that adults are complacent about vaccine-preventable diseases."

While many adults are keeping up with some of their vaccinations, vaccination rates are still below national target levels, according to the survey.

"To me personally, the results [of the survey] are disappointing, but not surprising," Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during the news conference.

For example, only 20 percent of those surveyed knew about pneumococcal disease. This vaccine-preventable disease kills up to 4,500 adults in the United States every year.

Schaffner is concerned that as young adults have children, vaccine rates will drop even further and diseases that have been largely eliminated in the United States will re-emerge.

Especially troubling is the lack of vaccination awareness among 18- to 26-year-olds. Only 30 percent of young adults knew that th
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