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

e flu, which is preventable with a vaccine, kills almost 40,000 Americans a year, more than any other vaccine-preventable disease. However, 59 percent of those over 50 are aware of the benefit of flu vaccine, according to the survey.

For all Americans, vaccination levels are too low, experts say. For example, among those aged 60 and older influenza and pneumococcal vaccination levels remain at 66.6 percent and 60 percent, respectively.

Additionally, only about 10 percent of women aged 19 to 26 have been vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, which can prevent 70 percent of cervical cancers. And only 15 percent of those aged 19 to 64 have received the Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

A Tdap booster is recommended in place of one tetanus-diphtheria booster vaccine, which should be given every 10 years.

Another concern is the racial and ethnic disparities in vaccination levels among those aged 65 and older. Among whites, the national average for having a flu shot is 69 percent, but for blacks and Hispanics the rates are 53 percent and 51 percent, respectively.

The same is true for pneumococcal disease. Whites have higher vaccination levels than blacks and Hispanics, at 64 percent, 44 percent and 36 percent, respectively.

"It's clear we have a lot of room for improvement," NFID medical director, Dr. Susan J. Rehm, said during the news conference.

Getting people to get their vaccinations is a matter of awareness, Rehm said, and it is incumbent upon doctors to make sure their patients have the necessary vaccinations and booster shots.

"The majority of adults [87 percent] are very likely to get vaccinated if their doctor or other clinician advises that they get vaccinated," she said. "Our hope is that clinicians throughout the care continuum will become increasingly aware of adult vaccinations, and will spread the word to their patients."

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