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More than 30 percent of seniors are not immunized against pneumonia in 36 states
Date:2/4/2010

Washington, D.C. February 4, 2010 - A new report, Adult Immunization: Shots to Save Lives, released today by the Trust for America's Health (TFAH), the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) found that more than 30 percent of adults ages 65 and older had not been immunized against pneumonia in 36 states as of 2008. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other experts recommend that all seniors should be vaccinated against pneumonia, which is a one-time shot for most individuals, since seniors who get the seasonal flu are at risk for developing pneumonia as a complication.

Nationally, 33.1 percent of seniors had not been immunized against pneumonia, and even in the state with the highest immunization rate - Oregon - more than one quarter (26.8 percent) of seniors were not immunized. Washington, D.C. had the lowest number of seniors immunized, with nearly half (45.6 percent) of seniors not immunized.

Overall, the Adult Immunization report found millions of American adults go without routine and recommended vaccinations each year, which leads to an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 preventable deaths, thousands of preventable illnesses, and $10 billion in preventable health care costs each year. In addition to low rates of pneumonia immunizations, only 2.1 percent of eligible adults have had the tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough vaccine; only 10 percent of eligible adult women have had the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine; and only 36.1 percent of all adults were vaccinated against the seasonal flu in 2008.

"Thousands of lives could be saved each year if we could increase the number of adults who receive routine and recommended vaccinations," said Jeffrey Levi, PhD, Executive Director of TFAH. "We need a national strategy to make vaccines a regular part of medical care and to educate Americans about the effectiveness and safety of vaccines."

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Contact: John Heys
jheys@idsociety.org
703-299-0412
Infectious Diseases Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

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