Nearly Half of U.S. Adults Unaware of Recommended Vaccinations

U.S. health officials have pointed to recent outbreaks of whooping cough, the worst in decades in many parts of the country, as just one example that underscores the need for adults to be vaccinated against highly-contagious diseases. However, recent study released by Walgreens shows nearly half of U.S. adults (42 percent) surveyed are unaware of government-recommended vaccinations for their age and health condition. The survey also reveals that more than half of respondents (53 percent) are not diligent about regular check-ups with their primary care physician. In addition to those unaware of the latest recommendations, another third (36 percent) believe they have knowledge of some, but not all. These groups combined represent three-fourths of all respondents, an overwhelming majority (71 percent) of whom say they would be interested to know what vaccinations are currently recommended for them. The Walgreens survey shows that for people who do know all or some of the current vaccine recommendations, more than two-thirds (71 percent) say they are also up-to-date with their vaccination schedule. The survey further looks at the disease or illness that concerns respondents the most, and how often that concern leads to action in the form of vaccination to prevent or protect against it. Flu ranked highest for concern, with 27 percent worried about it, three-fourths of whom said they’ve received a flu shot as a preventive measure. Other diseases or illnesses ranking high include: •Pneumonia (13 percent) – 51 percent of whom have been vaccinated •Shingles (10 percent) – 22 percent have been vaccinated •Hepatitis (8 percent) – 43 percent have been vaccinated Meningitis, whooping cough and measles/mumps were also mentioned. Thirty percent of respondents indicated no concern about any of the above. For those who indicated concern over contracting any of the vaccine-preventable diseases but have yet to be immunized, not knowing enough about the vaccine was the most common response for their reason why. Meningitis was highest, as 67 percent said they didn’t have enough information to get the vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says meningitis places adolescents at higher risk than any other age group, yet just over half of all U.S. teens receive the meningococcal vaccine. Lack of knowledge was also the main deterrent for not receiving the following vaccinations: •Pneumonia – 48 percent •Shingles – 39 percent •Hepatitis – 30 percent By contrast, data suggest strong awareness of immunizations for vaccine-preventable diseases among young children, with immunization rates recently reported at greater than 90 percent in the U.S. by the CDC. According to a February CDC report, at least 45,000 American adults die each year of diseases that could be prevented by vaccines. By comparison, the CDC reports that fewer than 1,000 Americans die of childhood diseases that are vaccine-preventable.