Vaccination Rates Still Too Low in Adults, Says CDC

February 04, 2013 02:45 pm News Staff

Except for modest increases in tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis vaccination overall and in human papillomavirus vaccination among women, 2011 noninfluenza adult vaccination coverage in the United States showed little improvement compared with 2010 coverage, according to the CDC's Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report( (MMWR).

The agency based its findings on an analysis of data from the 2011 National Health Interview Survey regarding coverage of vaccines recommended for specific adult populations based on age, certain medical conditions, behavioral risk factors (e.g., injection drug use), occupation, travel and other indications.

In an editorial note that accompanied the MMWR report, the CDC said that with little improvement in coverage rates for the pneumococcal, herpes zoster and hepatitis B vaccines, coverage levels among adults remain "unacceptably low" and are well below the respective target levels set by HHS' Healthy People 2020 initiative.

"These data … highlight the need for continuing efforts to increase adult vaccination coverage," the CDC said. "Substantial improvement in adult vaccination is needed to reduce the health consequences of vaccine-preventable diseases among adults."

The CDC defined a "successful vaccination program" as one that combines

  • education of potential vaccine recipients and publicity to promote vaccination;
  • increased access to vaccination services in medical and complementary settings, such as workplaces and commercial establishments (e.g., pharmacies); and
  • use of practices shown to improve vaccination coverage, including reminder-recall systems, efforts to remove administrative and financial barriers to vaccination, use of standing order programs for vaccination, and assessment of practice-level vaccination rates, with feedback to staff members.

The CDC also noted that physician vaccination recommendations are associated with patients actually getting vaccinated.

"Routine assessment of adult patient vaccination needs, recommendation and offer of needed vaccinations for adults should be incorporated into routine clinical care of adults," the CDC said. "The adult immunization schedule, updated annually, provides current recommendations for vaccinating adults and a ready resource for persons who provide health care services for adults in various settings."