Washington, D.C. Department of Health Recognizes National Adult Immunization Awareness Week, Sept. 26 through Oct. 2, 2004

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Dr. Gregg A. Pane, acting director of the Department of Health, announced today  that the department is encouraging residents to update their immunizations in recognition of National Adult Immunization Awareness Week, Sunday, Sept. 26, through Saturday, Oct. 2, to raise awareness about the importance of adult and adolescent immunization.


Despite the many advances in modern medicine, each year thousands of people in the U.S. die from diseases that are easily prevented by safe and effective vaccines, said Pane. Immunizations help reduce absences at work, school, and social events, and also decrease the spread of illness in the home, workplace, and the community.


Although most adults realize that immunizations play an important role in keeping infants and children healthy, many are unaware that readily available vaccines offer a safe and cost-effective way to prevent serious illness and death among adolescents and adults.  As many as 50,000 adults in the U.S. die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases or their complications. Vaccination saves many healthcare dollars by keeping people healthy and avoiding the expensive therapies and hospitalizations needed to treat illnesses like influenza and pneumococcal disease.


Influenza causes more than 100,000 hospitalizations and an average of 36,000 deaths each year in the US Individuals with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease are particularly at risk of influenza infection, as are people in nursing, convalescent, or other institutional settings. People 50 years of age or older are urged to get their influenza vaccination every year. This year, influenza immunization will be available in October for those high-risk people and will be available in November for all others seeking protection from influenza and its complications.


People 65 years of age and older and those with certain medical conditions are also at risk for severe illness caused by pneumococcal disease. The risk of pneumococcal infections and complications can be reduced or eliminated with pneumococcal vaccine. The costs of both the influenza and pneumococcal vaccines are covered under Medicare Part B.


There are also a number of safe and effective vaccines available to protect them against other potentially life-threatening diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (chickenpox).


During the 2002 Flu season, there were 143 flu-related and 143 pneumonia-related deaths in the District of Columbia.


Source: D.C. Department of Health