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American Lung Association Recognizes Older Adults Vaccination Day with Release of New Report Examining Disparities in Influenza and Pneumonia Vaccination Rates Among Older Americans
Date:12/9/2010

heart disease and diabetes that further increases the risk of severe illness and death from influenza and pneumonia.  

More alarming is that these disparities exist despite older adults of all racial and ethnic groups accessing healthcare at roughly the same rate.  Somehow, in healthcare settings, many older adults are not getting vaccinated. The core of the problem is that some patients are not asking to be vaccinated, and some doctors are not recommending it when seeing patients.

It has been suggested that if older African Americans and Hispanics achieved immunization rates equal to that of whites, roughly 25 percent of flu-related deaths among these groups could be prevented every year.  

"This is a ticking time bomb.  As baby boomers age, and the nation's elderly population rises, the toll of influenza and pneumonia will likely increase," said Gooden continued.  "It's important that we address this health disparity now to prevent serious illness and save lives in the future."  

The Lung Association's report highlights some possible reasons behind this disparity and proposes a series of public health and policy solutions to bring parity to overall vaccinations rates among older Americans.  These reasons are multiple, complex and interrelated and include internal barriers within healthcare systems, provider beliefs and behaviors, patient knowledge awareness and personal beliefs, along with affordability and access to care.

The American Lung Association also calls on federal and state government agencies, healthcare systems and individual providers and practices to take the following actions to close the gap of missed vaccination opportunities:

  • Implement policies that ensure influenza and pneumonia vaccinations for all adults at no cost.
  • Continue annual vaccination campaigns to remind older adults and healthcare providers of the risks of influen
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SOURCE American Lung Association
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