According to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccination rates among adults in this country are disturbingly low. The CDC has expressed concern that diseases otherwise preventable by up-to-date vaccinations are affecting the health and welfare of tens of thousands of people each year, and resulting in billions of dollars unnecessarily spent on indirect health costs.
The CDC issued the information on inadequate adult vaccinations in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released Feb. 7. Researchers reportedly took a look at data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey which contains information about individuals considered to be a representative sample of adults across the nation to reach their conclusions.
While a few vaccinations appear to have gained in popularity among adults, including the Tdap vaccine to prevent tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis and the Herpes Zoster and anti-cervical cancer vaccines, rates are still below a desired level. Other vaccinations such as those to protect against pneumonia and flu came in disturbingly low for adults, even among those deemed to be at high risk for complications from the diseases.
This year’s high rates of H1N1 flu are affecting younger people in greater numbers, making the fact that only 41.8 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 64 have been vaccinated against the flu all the more disturbing.
There were also disparities seen in vaccination rates between races, with white adults in the U.S. much more likely to be vaccinated than either African-Americans or those of Hispanic origin.
Reasons behind the low rates of adult vaccination cannot be known for certain, but there is speculation on several fronts. Some medical professionals feel that persistent untruths about the effects of and risks associated with vaccinations are to blame for their refusal. Even in the face of facts about raising rates of certain diseases preventable through vaccination, low rate continue, suggesting that information dispelling negatives wrongly associated with vaccines needs to be disseminated.
Others blame the low rates of vaccination on the healthiest of adults. Those who are not regularly seeking health care and do not have any underlying medical conditions may be less likely to get vaccinated because they simply are not in contact with the medical community nor do they consider themselves high risk for the development of disease or complications from disease. It has been suggested that nationwide campaigns encouraging vaccination aimed at all adults, even those who appear healthy, may assist in getting vaccination rates up to where the CDC believes they should be.
Cost may also be a factor in adults’ determinations’ as to whether to seek vaccinations. Vaccinations may be viewed as the type of non-essential item that can be eliminated from one’s budget. Some medical professionals are hopeful that the Affordable Health Care Act will assist in eliminating cost as a factor in the reluctance to be vaccinated.
The CDC has also issued a recommendation to all medical professionals that they review and update all patients on their vaccination histories during routine exams or check-ups. A reminder call system to patients when vaccines are due has also been suggested as a possible solution to the problem of low rates of adult vaccinations across the U.S.
By Michele Wessel