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August 2013

Too Few Adults Up-to-Date on Vaccines

Vaccines are small shots of big importance. They've helped knock down serious diseases, such as chickenpox, whooping cough, and measles. Unfortunately, a recent government report shows too few adults are rolling up their sleeves for the vaccines they need.

Photo of a doctor giving a shot to a woman

Reporting too little use

The CDC analyzed the results of the most recent national survey on vaccine use. It found that many American adults are skipping recommended vaccines. Compared with past years, it's a consistent trend among men and women of all ages and races.

Some key findings: Little more than half of all adults reported receiving a tetanus shot. Less than 16 percent of older adults choose to protect themselves against shingles-a painful rash triggered by the chickenpox virus lingering in the body. On a positive note: More women are opting for the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. It helps prevent cervical cancer.

Protecting more than you

Vaccines help stop the spread of disease. They also help save the lives of those who can't be vaccinated. Experts call this community immunity. For instance, children younger than 2 months are too young to be vaccinated against pertussis-a deadly childhood disease also known as whooping cough. To protect them, pregnant mothers and other close caregivers should receive the vaccine.

Wondering what shots you may need? It depends on many factors, including your age, any medical conditions you may have, your occupation, and your lifestyle. In general, adults should receive:

  • An annual flu shot for all ages, including pregnant women

  • The Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccine and booster every 10 years

  • Two doses of the chickenpox vaccine

  • One or two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine

  • Three doses of the HPV vaccine for men and women ages 19 to 26

  • The shingles vaccine for those 50 and older

Some people may also benefit from vaccines for pneumonia, meningococcal disease, and hepatitis A and B. Talk with your health care provider to determine which vaccines are right for you.

Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.

 

How much do you know about vaccines? Quiz yourself here

 

The Value of a Vaccine Record

At some point in your life, you may need to confirm that you've had a certain vaccine. For example, international travel may require protection against diseases common to your destination. Colleges or a new employer may request proof of vaccination.

It's a good idea to keep a record of your vaccines. It will help you avoid duplicate shots. If you haven't kept track before, here are tips on how to build your vaccine record:

  • Contact your previous health care providers, including those at local health clinics. Your pharmacy or health insurance company may also have information on file .

  • Dig through old family documents. Your childhood records may include forms for school or camp.

  • Reach out to colleges or other schools you have attended . Previous employers may keep track of vaccines, too.

  • Check your state's immunization registry. It's an electronic database that collects vaccine information.

 

Online Resources

CDC - Vaccines and Immunizations

National Network for Immunization Information

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Vaccines.gov

 

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