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According to CDC statistics, influenza caused 17,911 hospitalizations in the U.S. during the October to April 2014 flu season. The CDC also notes that roughly 1 in 3 Americans will develop shingles during their lifetimes, with much of the incidence in the elderly; the organization estimates that 96 people a year die from shingles-related illness. The American Lung Association suggests that 175,000 cases of pneumococcal pneumonia are diagnosed annually, with a fatality rate of 5%-7% (higher in the elderly).
The American Cancer Society estimates 12,900 women annually will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and nearly a third of those cases will be fatal. The Hepatitis B Foundation estimates that 1 million Americans are chronically infected with Hepatitis B. The common thread behind all these statistics? All are vaccine preventable diseases in adults.
Childhood vaccinations have become a standard aspect of preventive medicine amongst American youth. Parents are often well aware of vaccine schedules, particularly for school-aged children. However, as adults, we don’t always recognize the need for vaccines for ourselves. Preventive medicine is certainly a key aspect of adult care as well.
While adult vaccines can’t always guarantee 100% protection from disease, they do undoubtedly reduce disease burden for both individuals and populations. Unfortunately, as adults, we don’t always get the routine primary care we emphasize for our children, and vaccine administration can slip through the cracks.
In addition to education, primary care providers can work to emphasize adult vaccine schedules within their practices. Those practices moving towards patient-centered medical home (PCMH) status or which participate in newer population health management programs may find the ability to use analytics and patient outreach to not only educate patients but also actively encourage them to seek their recommended vaccines. For practices that face difficulties in managing vaccines, there is also the option to refer patients to a local pharmacy that may provide vaccines in a convenient environment.
Regardless of the strategies employed, awareness and active engagement can help improve the vaccination rates among adults. More importantly, we can impact the suffering and occasional death that may result from what are, ultimately, preventable conditions.
This is a sampling of resources available to healthcare practitioners regarding infection prevention. Unless otherwise noted, the recommendations in this document were obtained from the source indicated. Be advised that information contained herein is intended to serve as a useful reference for informational purposes only and is not complete clinical information. This information is intended for use only by competent healthcare professionals exercising judgment in providing care. McKesson cannot be held responsible for the continued currency of or for any errors or omissions in the information.
2015 McKesson Medical-Surgical Inc.