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Too Few Adults Get Recommended Vaccinations
Date:2/4/2010

Shots could save thousands of U.S. lives each year, report authors say,,

THURSDAY, Feb. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Most parents make sure their children get all their vaccinations, but when it comes to adults these protective shots often fall by the wayside, a new report shows.

In fact, 40,000 to 50,000 American adults die each year from diseases that vaccines could have prevented, according to the report, Adult Immunization: Shots to Save Lives. The report was released jointly Thursday by the Trust for America's Health, the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

"This country does not have an effective strategy for immunizing adults against infectious diseases," Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health, said during a morning teleconference. "Thousands of lives could be saved each year if we could increase the number of adults who receive routine and recommended vaccinations. 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."

"The vast majority of vaccine-preventable disease, hospitalization and deaths occur among adults -- that's, for many, a new concept," Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of the Infectious Diseases Society of America's Immunization Work Group and co-author of the report, said during the teleconference. "This is unfortunate, if not tragic, because currently available vaccines can prevent many of these illnesses. The country has an absolutely stunningly first-rate system for immunizing children, but too many adults still fall through the cracks. It's really time to build a better strategic approach for systematically immunizing adults."

One example of a widely underused vaccine for adults is the pneumonia vaccine: in 36 states more than 30 percent of adults aged 65 and older have not been vaccinated against pneumonia.

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