"It reminds us that we have a very poor track record for vaccines in the United States," he said. "Vaccine is a tremendous tool for stamping out disease."
Siegel also noted that vaccines wear off. "You need boosters," he said.
Tetanus shots wear off every 10 years, he added. In addition, the vaccine against shingles only lasts five years, and only works in about 50 percent of people, Siegel said.
Getting the pneumonia vaccine is a "no brainer," he said. "Pneumonia ... [is] killing people. There is no reason whatsoever not to take this vaccine -- and it lasts for six years."
Siegel also noted that there are vaccines that guard against hepatitis, especially hepatitis B. "Hepatitis B is a huge killer and disabler, and it can be entirely prevented with a vaccine," he said.
Siegel believes that doctors should take time to make sure that adult patients are offered vaccines. In addition, something needs to be done to counter the fear many have of vaccines, he added.
Vaccines virtually eliminated smallpox worldwide and polio in the United States, Siegel noted.
For more information on vaccines, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Marc Siegel, M.D., associate professor, medicine, New York University, New York City; Feb. 4, 2010, teleconference with: Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health, and William Schaffner, M.D., chairman, Infectious Diseases Society of America's Immunization Work Group
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