TUESDAY, Jan. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Vaccines aren't just for kids, and most American adults aren't getting their recommended vaccinations, federal health officials said Tuesday.
"In general, too few adults are taking advantage of the protection of vaccines, leaving themselves and those around them at greater risk of vaccine-preventable diseases," Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said during a news conference.
For example, Koh said, in 2011, the most recent year for which data are available, there were some 37,000 cases of preventable pneumococcal pneumonia that resulted in 4,000 deaths.
The majority of deaths occurred among adults 50 and older, and the highest rates were seen among those 65 years and older. Almost everyone who gets invasive pneumococcal disease needs treatment in the hospital, and that's why people 65 and older should be vaccinated, Koh said.
Dr. Carolyn Bridges, associate director for adult immunization at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Immunization Services Division, said the number of adults "getting their recommended vaccines is still too low, despite modest gains for Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) and HPV (human papillomavirus)."
For example, she said, about 62 percent of adults 65 and over have received the pneumococcal vaccine, which protects against sometimes life-threatening meningitis, pneumonia and blood infections. As with most vaccines, most of those vaccinated are white, she noted, with blacks, Asians and Hispanics lagging behind.
About 13 percent of adults reported getting a tetanus vaccination, which was a 4 percent increase since 2010, Bridges said. But "that's well below where we would like to see them," she added.
"We have initial data that over 9,300 cases of pertussis (whooping cough) have been seen in adults i
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