Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Integrating Adult Vaccines into Your Routine Care

(ARA) - Every year, nearly 50,000 Americans, mostly adults, die from diseases that vaccination can prevent and millions more need to be hospitalized, get too sick to care for loved ones, like children or elderly parents, and are forced to miss work. They also run the risk of spreading illness to those close to them.

“Not getting vaccinated leaves adults all over our country vulnerable to illness, suffering and death,” said Dr. William Schaffner, MD, president-elect of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) and chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “A greater effort is needed to help more adults understand the importance of vaccination.”

Despite the availability of many safe and effective vaccines for adults, a recent survey conducted by NFID showed that Americans have a lot of wrong ideas about vaccines and the diseases they prevent.

Nearly Half of Adults Surveyed Said They Are Not Concerned about Vaccine-preventable Diseases and One-fourth Do Not Know They Are Serious and Can Be Life-threatening

The truth is that vaccine-preventable diseases can be both serious and life threatening. Every year, influenza kills 36,000 Americans and causes over 200,000 hospitalizations. Influenza has been tied to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and asthma flare-ups. Pneumococcal disease can cause pneumonia, meningitis and bloodstream infection, known as sepsis; it kills up to 5,000 Americans every year.

One in Three Adults Are Not Concerned about Spreading Illness to Their Friends, Family Members and Co-workers

Infectious diseases spread easily and can have devastating consequences when they infect vulnerable people. Pertussis (whooping cough) causes illness among adults, but is most harmful when spread to infants, who are at the greatest risk of complications and death. CDC recently reported that a health care worker in the newborn nursery of a general hospital gave pertussis to 11 different infants over a three-month period in 2004. Five of the 11 infants had to be admitted to a pediatric intensive-care unit, but fortunately all survived. The health care worker got pertussis vaccine as a child, but immunity decreases over time and the booster vaccine that might have prevented this outbreak was not available at the time of this outbreak. It is now recommended for all adolescents and adults up to age 65.

Four in 10 Adults Say They Were Vaccinated as a Child, so They Do Not Need to be Vaccinated Again

It is important to receive appropriate vaccinations at all ages. While some vaccines are only given during childhood, others require booster doses for adults. There are also new vaccines that were not available when today’s adults were children. For example, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which prevents cervical cancer in women, is now available and recommended for females starting at 11 years of age. Shingles (herpes zoster) vaccine is recommended for individuals 60 years and older, because they are at the highest risk of this disease. Shingles can cause a very painful rash and lead to shingles pain syndrome, which is hard to treat and can last for years.

About One in Eight Adults Say They Are too Busy to Get a Vaccine and about One Fourth Think Vaccines Are too Expensive

Most insurers provide coverage for vaccinations, so cost may be much less of an issue than many adults think. What’s more, the cost of not getting vaccinated can be high. Hepatitis B causes liver disease, and takes the lives of 5,000 people every year, costing roughly $700 million in health care and lost productivity, like through people missing work. Adults can call their health insurance plan to find out whether it covers the vaccinations they need. Vaccines are also often offered at local health clinics.

Talk to Your Doctor about the Vaccines You Need

Vaccines play a key role in protecting adults and their close contacts from dangerous, and sometimes life-threatening, diseases. That is why NFID has published a Call to Action, encouraging adults to seek vaccination. Adults are urged to talk to their doctor about what vaccines they need.

For more information about vaccines and the diseases they prevent, visit NFID’s Web site at www.nfid.org.

Courtesy of ARAcontent