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HHS Releases Plan to Improve US Adult Immunization Rates

Thursday, February 4, 2016
Contact: ASH Media Office
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New data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds varied, and in some cases extremely low, use of all vaccines recommended for adults. To boost the number of adults immunized against vaccine preventable diseases, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the first National Adult Immunization Plan today.

“We’ve done a great job educating people about the importance of childhood vaccines, but we need to do a much better job making sure more adults are aware of the vaccines they should get in order to protect them from diseases that can have quite serious complications,” said Karen DeSalvo, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc., HHS acting assistant secretary for health.

The new plan, developed by the HHS National Vaccine Program Office with input from a wide range of experts from a variety of organizations, lays out the following four goals to increase adult immunization rates in the U.S.:

  1. Strengthen the public health and health care systems involved in adult immunization;
  2. Improve access to adult vaccines;
  3. Increase awareness of adult vaccine recommendations and use of recommended vaccines; and
  4. Foster innovations in adult vaccines, including new vaccines and new ways to provide them.

“The National Adult Immunization Plan explains the importance of adult vaccinations, measures progress and informs future efforts,” said HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health Bruce Gellin, M.D., M.P.H. “This plan was specifically developed to address barriers by taking advantage of the expanded access to recommended vaccines provided by the Affordable Care Act.” Dr. Gellin also serves as Director of the HHS National Vaccine Program Office, which is responsible for developing, coordinating and implementing the plan.

The most recent data from CDC’s 2014 National Health Interview Survey shows little change in adult immunization rates since 2010, with some rates remaining well below national targets. Even with modest increases in the number of people who received the Tdap and shingles vaccines in 2014, 80 percent of adults ages 19 and older have not received recommended vaccinations to protect them against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough), and more than 70 percent of adults ages 60 and older have not received recommended shingles vaccinations.  

“Health care provider recommendations for vaccination of adults are the key to improving people’s awareness of vaccines they may need,” said Carolyn Bridges, M.D., associate director of adult immunizations, CDC. “All health care providers are encouraged to assess their patients’ vaccination needs, recommend needed vaccines and either offer vaccinations or refer patients to other providers who offer vaccination services.” 

Providers recommend vaccines based on age, lifestyle, health status, occupation, prior vaccination history, and travel plans. Each year, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) reviews the recommended immunization schedule to ensure the schedule is updated to include any new vaccines or changes to previous vaccine recommendations. The 2016 ACIP-recommended adult immunization schedule was released earlier this week. Changes include updates to the use of 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23), as well as recommendations for the use of serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) vaccine, and the 9-valent human papillomavirus vaccine (9vHPV).

For more information on adult immunization efforts at the Department of Health and Human Services, please visitwww.hhs.gov/nvpo/ and http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/index.html

Vaccines.gov also provides credible, updated information on vaccines and immunization across the lifespan, including specifics for college-aged adultspregnant womenseniors and people with chronic health conditions. Visitors can get questions answered about specific vaccines or use the vaccine finder tool and take a short quiz to learn which vaccines are needed and where to access them. Healthfinder.gov also provides personalized health recommendations.

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Content created by Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH)
Content last reviewed on February 4, 2016