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CDC: Adults Largely Unvaccinated

September 3, 2013

Originally published Sep 12, 2011

Vaccines aren’t just for kids, adults need protection too! September 18th kick starts National Adult Immunization Awareness Week and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is reminding Georgians that you never outgrow the need for vaccines.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show adults remain largely unvaccinated against preventable infectious illnesses. In fact, survey results from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases suggest that doctor/patient communication challenges may part of the problem. The survey reported one in five adults believe vaccines are optional for healthy adults and 19 percent of those surveyed believe vaccination is generally not recommended for adults except for influenza or travel-related vaccines.

By not getting vaccinated as recommended, adults are leaving themselves needlessly vulnerable to illness and at risk for potential spread of vaccine-preventable diseases such as pertussis (whooping cough) to their friends, family and colleagues.

Pertussis is an acute infectious disease caused by Bordetella pertussis. It typically starts with symptoms similar to the common cold and may include sneezing, runny nose, low-grade fever, and a mild cough lasting for approximately one week. Over time the illness becomes progressively worse with coughing spasms followed by a sudden deep inspiration or “whoop.” However, the “whoop” is not always present, particularly in adults. The coughing spasms can last weeks to months. Because adults with pertussis can give the infection to infants, who are at a greater risk of serious complications including death, the Department is reminding all Georgians to get caught up on all required adult immunizations.

Just last year, two-hundred and forty-seven (247) pertussis cases were reported to the Georgia Department of Public Health, with adults accounting for 22 percent of the cases. The best way for Georgia residents to protect themselves and their families is through vaccination – infants and children should be up to date on their DTaP vaccines and pre-teens, teens, and adults should receive a booster dose of Tdap for protection. Awareness of pertussis symptoms and stages plays a vital role in preventing the spread of disease.

National Adult Immunization Awareness Week is recognized to promote among adults that they are never too old for their shots. Safe and effective vaccines are available to protect adults and children alike against potentially life-threatening diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria, meningococcal disease, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, shingles, measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chickenpox). Many adults are unaware of the potential risks of vaccine-preventable disease, the need for booster doses or the availability of new vaccines. So this September, talk to your healthcare provider or visit your local public health clinic and find out if you’re current on your immunization recommendations and get immunized today.

To learn the latest in adult immunization recommendations and other best practices related to immunization services, attend the 18th Annual Immunize Georgia Conference in Macon, Georgia on Thursday, September 15. The Georgia Department of Public Health encourages all Georgians to protect their friends, family and themselves from vaccine-preventable diseases by getting vaccinated.