When most people think of vaccinations, they think of teary eyed babies and children, but vaccinations are not just for kids. Vaccination is just as important for adults as it is children, yet many adults are not optimally vaccinated.
Earlier this year, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention released updated recommendations for adults relating to the vaccines for hepatitis B, influenza, and HPV. Adult vaccinations should be front and center through patient reminders, recalling patients who have missed vaccines, and alerts on electronic medical records, all with the hopes of improving immunization coverage for adults.
There are many reasons for adults to receive vaccinations (1):
- They may no longer be protected. Many vaccines require boosters
- Getting vaccines helps protect kids & babies too young for vaccines
- Some vaccines are only for adults
- Adults may need them when they travel
- Everyone needs a flu vaccine each year
- They might not have been fully vaccinated as a child
- Newer vaccines have been developed
- They are going back to college
- They work in a healthcare profession
- They have asthma, heart, lung disease, diabetes, or another chronic illness
With so many reasons for adults to receive vaccinations, why are vaccination rates so low among adults?
The CDC mentioned reasons including competing priorities when managing patients’ acute and chronic health conditions, lower prioritization of immunization for adults when paired up with other preventative services, and financial barriers to receiving adult vaccinations.
Coverage rates of adults with health insurance were two to five times those of adults without.
Another possible reason for low vaccination coverage among adults was the physicians themselves. It was reported that approximately 25 percent of internists felt age-based vaccination recommendations for adults were difficult to follow. Additionally, 29 percent reported that vaccine recommendations based on medical condition were difficult to follow. It is important that physician’s explain the benefits to adult vaccinations (2).
What are common vaccines to be administered to an adult?
- Influenza vaccine
- Herpes Zoster (Shingles) vaccine
- Tetanus, Diptheria and Acellular Pertussis (Tdap) vaccine
- Pneumococcal vaccine
- Hepatitis B vaccine
- HPV vaccine
Vaccines are an important part of defending against preventable disease, not only for children, but also for adults.
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(1) “12 Reasons Why Adults Need Vaccines.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/vaccines/features/why-adults-need-vaccines#1.
(2) Mohney, Gillian. “CDC Issues New Vaccine Guidelines for Adults.” ABC News, ABC News Network, abcnews.go.com/Health/cdc-issues-vaccine-guidelines-adults/story?id=45300235.