7 things you didn't know about adult vaccination in the U.S.

Even though vaccines are one of the greatest health innovations of the last century, a new survey shows that among some adults in America there is a lack of awareness about the immunizations they need as adults.

According to an online survey of 1,000 American adults aged 18 years and older, there is a critical gap between awareness and action when it comes to vaccination.1

Adults should talk to their healthcare providers about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of recommended adult vaccines. The best way to protect yourself and those closest to you is to vaccinate for life. So, ask your doctor if you are up to date on all your vaccines. It’s a simple step that can help protect you, your family and your community.

1. Adults may think they know, but they have no idea

Nearly half of adults consider themselves to be “very” or “quite” knowledgeable about vaccines,2 yet fewer than three in ten Americans are aware of the vaccines recommended for adults their age.1

2. Vaccines are not just for kids

Most of us are familiar with the importance of vaccination during childhood; however, vaccination is equally important throughout adulthood, as the immune system begins to decline with age.3 Immunosenescence, also known as age-related decline in immunity, significantly contributes to the susceptibility of older adults to serious, yet preventable conditions including: influenza, pneumonia and shingles.3 Despite this, 65 percent of adults are not fully up to date on their vaccines.1

3. Vaccines may help save your life

Six million deaths are prevented globally each year as a result of vaccination. If global vaccination rates increased, even more deaths could be prevented.4

4. Vaccination may prevent unnecessary death

Vaccine-preventable diseases can cause long-term illness and even death. In fact, 99 percent of the more than 50,000 deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases that occur every year in the U.S. are in adults.5

5. Vaccination may protect against more than just vaccine-preventable diseases

Vaccination can also protect against other health problems. In fact, vaccinating against the flu can also help protect people against heart attacks and stroke.6

6. Vaccine knowledge may supersede action

Despite longstanding recommendations for the use of many vaccines, adult vaccination rates remain low. In 2015, the flu vaccination rate for adults aged 19 and older was less than 45 percent, Tdap (Tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis) vaccination rate for adults was only about 23 percent, and shingles vaccination rate for adults 60 and older was just about 31 percent.7

7. Vaccination may impact all of us in unexpected ways

Medical costs related to vaccine-preventable diseases in older adults are high and are expected to grow substantially in the coming years. One study forecasts U.S. medical costs for Americans 65 and older in the Medicare population to be $4.74 billion annually by 2030 for just one vaccine-preventable disease.8


1 Vaccinate for Life consumer survey. Exploration based on Q9. Which of the following statements best describes how up-to-date you consider yourself to be on vaccinations. I am aware of the vaccines recommended to adults of my age and have received all of these recommended vaccinations. Total base all respondents n=1000.

2 Vaccinate for Life consumer survey. Exploration based Q4A. How knowledgeable do you consider yourself to be on adult vaccinations, also referred to as immunizations? Are you … very knowledgeable, quite knowledgeable, not quite knowledgeable, not at all knowledgeable. Total base all respondents n=1000.

3 American College of Physicians et al. Aging and Immunity: The Important Role of Vaccines, 2017. Available at https://www.acponline.org/system/files/documents/clinical_information/resources/adult_immunization/aging_and_immunity_guide.pdf.

4 Ehreth J. The global value of vaccination. Vaccine. 2003;21:596-600.

5 Rice HR, Varkey P. What immunizations should I offer to my patients? A primer on adult immunizations. J Assoc Physicians India. 2011; 59:568-72.

6 Hung IFN et al. Prevention of acute myocardial infarction and stroke among elderly persons by dual pneumococcal and influenza vaccination: a prospective cohort study. Clin Infect Dis. 2010; 51:1007–1016.

7 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Surveillance of Vaccination Coverage Among Adult Populations — United States, 2015. MMWR Surveill Summ. 2017; 66(11):1–28.

8 Varghese L et al. The temporal impact of aging on the burden of herpes zoster. BMC Geriatrics. 2017;17:30.

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