Tuesday, February 11, 2014

High Rate of Adult Deaths from Vaccine Preventable Diseases

The University of Colorado School of Medicine recently released the results of a study showing that adult vaccination rates for vaccine preventable diseases are remaining low. This news came after the report that adults make up 95% of the annual death rate for vaccine preventable diseases. The death rate is currently at 30,000 people per year. These facts represent a growing public health concern.

Laura Hurley, MD, MPH is an assistant professor of medicine at the CU School of Medicine and was the lead author. “Our study suggests that missed opportunities for adult vaccination are common because vaccination status is not being assessed at every (physician’s) visit, which is admittedly an ambitious goal. Also, most physicians are not stocking all recommended vaccines.”

There are eleven recommended adult vaccines. Estimates have shown that only 62-65% of adults over age 65 received a pneumococcal or influenza vaccine. A dismal 20% of high-risk adults between the ages of 19 and 65 received a pneumococcal vaccine and only 16% of those 60 or older got their shingles vaccine.

“Physicians reported a variety of barriers to vaccine stocking and administration, but financial barriers dominated the list,” Hurley continues. “Physicians in smaller, private practice often assume more risks from stocking expensive vaccine inventories and may be particularly affected by these financial barriers.” Physicians also struggle to get reimbursed by insurance companies, a problem that discourages them from stocking vaccines. Physicians choose to refer patients to pharmacies or public health facilities for vaccination.

“I feel we need to take a more systematic approach to this issue,” Hurley concludes. “As the population ages this could easily grow into a more serious public health issue.”

Vaccine Watch recommends all adults speak with their physician about recommended vaccines and take the necessary steps to insure they are protected from vaccine preventable diseases.

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