On May 5, 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published the results of its annual survey of vaccination coverage among adults (Williams WW, Lu P-J, O’Halloran A, et al. Surveillance of Vaccination Coverage Among Adult Populations — United States, 2015. MMWR Surveill Summ. 2017 May 5;66(11):1-28.) The results weren’t particularly encouraging.
Compared with the previous year, immunization rates against influenza for those 19 years of age and older were up 1.6 percent to 44.8 percent. In other words, although all adults are recommended to receive a yearly influenza vaccine, most adults still choose not to get it.
For pneumococcal vaccine, which is recommended for those in certain high-risk groups, immunization rates increased 2.8 percent to 23 percent in adults between 19 and 64 years of age, meaning that most adults at high risk of invasive pneumococcal disease are still vulnerable to the disease.
For Tdap vaccine, which is recommended as a single dose for all adults, in those 19 years of age and older, immunization rates increased 3.1 percent to 23.1 percent.
For herpes zoster vaccine, which is recommended for adults older than 60 years of age, immunization rates increased 3.2 percent to 30.6 percent, leaving most elderly adults vulnerable to one of the most painful diseases in medicine.
For hepatitis B vaccine, which is recommended for all healthcare workers, immunization rates increased among this group 4.1 percent to 64.7 percent, meaning that a full one-third of healthcare workers are at risk of a disease to which they are likely to be exposed.
One other worrisome note. Adults without health insurance were less likely to be vaccinated than those with health insurance. Given the likely increase in the number of people without health insurance under plans by the current administration, coverage against these preventable infections may well worsen.