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Young Adults Unaware of Threat of Infectious Disease and the Availability of Preventive Vaccines
Date:7/22/2009

WASHINGTON, July 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Young adults may have grown up in an era of information overload, but they have alarmingly little awareness of the risks of vaccine-preventable diseases and the need to keep up with vaccinations into adulthood, new data show.

For example, 84 percent of Americans over the age of 50 know that tetanus causes lockjaw and that they need to get a tetanus shot every 10 years. By contrast, just 49 percent of young adults aged 18 to 26 are aware of that fact, according to a survey commissioned by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID).

"Unless all adults, and young adults in particular, get more savvy and keep up with recommended immunizations, the nation could be vulnerable to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease down the road," warned William Schaffner, MD, president-elect of NFID and chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University, at a news conference attended by top U.S. public health officials and other medical experts. All underscored the importance of vaccination throughout the lifespan of an individual, not just in childhood.

Experts say that overall lack of awareness and knowledge among adults runs parallel to lower vaccination levels. According to the latest National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while we are seeing positive movement in some adult vaccination levels, rates still lag behind national targets across the board.

"Just as we prioritize protecting children with vaccines, we must also prioritize vaccination of adults as part of optimal preventive care," said Assistant U.S. Surgeon General and director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Anne Schuchat, MD. "Adult
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SOURCE National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
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