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CDC: ‘Unacceptably Low’ Numbers Of Americans Are Getting Their Shots

By Sy Mukherjee  

"CDC: ‘Unacceptably Low’ Numbers Of Americans Are Getting Their Shots"

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In a new report, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) proclaims that American adults are receiving vaccinations for whooping cough, shingles, and pneumonia at “unacceptably low” rates.

While the report found increases in the number of Americans receiving TDAP — tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis — and HPV vaccines, it also concluded that there was “little improvement in coverage for the other vaccines among adults in the United States.” CDC officials told reporters that the low vaccination rates could have to do with confusion over the proper vaccination schedules:

There were “modest gains” in coverage for the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) and HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccines, said CDC researcher and study co-author Dr. Carolyn Bridges during a phone call with reporters. Nearly 13% of people 19 to 64 years old reported receiving a Tdap vaccine in 2011, which was an increase of almost four percentage points from the previous year, she said; the number of adults living with an infant under a year old who received the vaccine was up around 11 points to 22%. Pertussis is particularly dangerous in infants.

Regarding HPV vaccination, adult women are advised to complete a series of three injections by age 26. Thirty percent of women ages 19 to 26 had received one or more doses of that vaccine in 2011, up from 21% in 2010. (In 2011, health officials added men up to the age of 21 to the list of people advised to get the vaccine, but the effects of that change aren’t available in the current data, which was collected in the 2011 National Health Interview Survey.) [...]

During the phone call with reporters, Bridges acknowledged that many adults might be confused about what vaccines they need; schedules vary depending on the vaccine and on a patient’s individual risk. She urged those people to ask their healthcare provider if they were due for any shots.

Even in areas where there has been improvement, vaccination rates are still woefully low — for example, just 30 percent of U.S. women receive one or more of their recommended HPV vaccines. That may partly be due to coverage gaps and a lack of proper information regarding vaccines. But it also speaks to the baffling misinformation spread by conspiracy theorists — and some Republican politicians — regarding the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

Doctors and medical experts have consistently advocated for more robust vaccination rates, and study after study has confirmed vaccination schedules’ ability to lower the spread of infectious diseases. But even during the worst flu epidemic in years, Americans remain remarkably resistant to taking their medicine.

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