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

immunization saves lives, prevents illness and will help us rein in the cost of healthcare by keeping the nation healthy."

NFID's medical director, Susan J. Rehm, MD, vice chair of the Department of Infectious Disease at the Cleveland Clinic, unveiled the NFID survey data showing that fewer than half of all American adults are "extremely or very familiar" with a number of vaccine-preventable diseases that can cause severe illness or death. To highlight this, just 20 percent of those surveyed were aware of pneumococcal disease, a vaccine-preventable disease that kills up to 4,500 adults in the U.S. every year.

Of special concern, experts said, is the lack of knowledge and awareness among young adults aged 18 to 26. For example, just 30 percent of young adults know that flu, which can be prevented with a vaccine, kills more Americans than any other vaccine-preventable disease. By contrast, 59 percent of adults over the age of 50 are aware of that fact, the survey found.

"This pattern is not surprising," said Dr. Rehm. "Our childhood vaccination program is so successful that adolescents cross into young adulthood having been extremely well protected against vaccine-preventable diseases and therefore have little or no personal experience with them. This may signal trouble in the future. As these young adults go on to have their own families, if they don't realize the importance of getting vaccinated for themselves, they may not prioritize it for their children either. That could make outbreaks of many vaccine-preventable diseases possible again."

NFID, which has long advocated for optimal use of all vaccines recommended by public health officials, has embarked on a campaign to raise public awareness about the need for adults - including young adults - to keep up with immunizations after childhood. (For a list of diseases and vaccines, go to '/>"/>

SOURCE National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
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