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Health Care Professionals Are Key to Boosting Adult Immunizations

Your recommendation can help protect patient health.“Too few adults are taking advantage of the protection vaccines provide, leaving themselves and those around them at greater risk of vaccine-preventable diseases,” according to Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Many factors influence low rates of adult immunization, but research indicates that a health care professional’s (HCP) strong recommendation is a powerful motivator for adults to get vaccinated. Even HCPs who do not provide vaccinations in their practice can play an important role in protecting their patients’ health simply by recommending they get vaccinated against serious diseases like influenza, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), shingles, hepatitis A and B, and pneumococcal disease.

“Our nation has achieved high immunization rates in children, but the number of adults getting their recommended vaccines is very low,”

says Dr. Carolyn Bridges, Associate Director for Adult Immunization at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Immunization Services Division.According to the latest data from the National Health Information Survey in 2012, only about 14% of adults reported getting a Tdap vaccination, which is recommended for all adults who did not receive it as an adolescent to prevent tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough. Only 20% of adults aged 19-64 years at high risk for pneumococcal disease received the vaccine. Adults 60 years and older are at increased risk for shingles, but only 16% of them reported getting the zoster vaccine that can help protect them against it. Only 36% of adults at high risk for hepatitis B have been vaccinated, and only 13% at high risk for hepatitis A have been vaccinated. Although human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine should ideally be given during adolescence, it can be given up to age 26 in women. Yet, only 30% of women 19-26 years old have received this cancer-preventing vaccine. These low rates mean that adults needlessly suffer illness, hospitalization, and even death. As the most trusted sources of information about health – including immunization – you can make a significant difference in whether a patient gets vaccinated. By routinely assessing your patients’ vaccine needs and strongly recommending needed vaccines, you can improve the health of your patients and their loved ones. Every health care professional has a role in ensuring their patients know which vaccines they need, even if they don’t stock vaccines in their office. Providers that don’t vaccinate can recommend needed vaccines and refer patients to a vaccinating provider or to the HealthMap Vaccine Finder at Under the Affordable Care Act, patients may be able to get recommended vaccines at no cost depending on their insurance plan. Use every patient visit as an opportunity to assess vaccine needs and strongly encourage them to stay up-to-date on recommended vaccines. For the latest recommended schedule for adult immunization, visit: Free patient education materials on adult vaccination are available at: There are a number of evidence-based strategies that you can adopt in your practice to effectively incorporate vaccine needs assessment and recommendation into your practice, including computerized record reminders, chart reminders mailed/telephoned reminders, and standing orders. Learn more at is National Immunization Awareness Month – a reminder of the importance of immunization in keeping our communities healthy. Your strong recommendation can make a difference.

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