When is the last time you got vaccinated? If you’re like most Americans it’s been years, maybe even decades. In fact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that far too few American adults are being vaccinated against serious, even deadly diseases.
“There’s always been an emphasis in pediatrics on prevention, and immunizations are a big part of that, but adult medicine has not caught up,” says William Sutker, MD, infectious disease specialist on the medical staff at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.
A study by the CDC found that less than 5 percent of American adults are up-to-date on all of their immunizations.
“I think people don’t realize the number of deaths that occur because of infectious diseases every year,” says Sutker.
So what should you be vaccinated against? All adults over 50, or those with diabetes or heart disease should receive flu and pneumonia vaccines, but it is estimated that just over half actually do.
“I think the flu and pneumonia vaccine are grossly underutilized,” adds Sutker.
All adults over 60 also should be vaccinated against shingles, but just 2 percent currently are. And now there’s yet another concern—whooping cough.
“Because adults haven’t been immunized against whooping cough in years, the illness is now starting to show up in adults and so that’s why there’s been a new emphasis trying to immunize adults again,” says Sutker.
The whooping cough vaccine is given in combination with the diphtheria and tetnus booster—which you should get every 10 years.
Experts say the results of this CDC study prove not nearly enough emphasis is put on adult immunizations which can be lifesaving.
“So although it seems we’re more concerned with heart disease and cancer, I think the public needs to know that infectious diseases are still out there and are a potential cause of problems,” says Sutker.
For more information about vaccinations, talk to your family physician.
Source: Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas