MINNEAPOLIS (March 14, 2012) — While there has been a great deal of attention focused on making sure children receive required vaccinations, Minnesota medical professionals and health advocates are becoming more concerned about a growing number of people over the age of 18 who are not getting vaccinated.
The majority of immunization awareness campaigns urge adults to get their children vaccinated, but the fact is that most people who die from vaccine-preventable diseases are actually adults. In the U.S., approximately 50,000 adults die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases.
The Minnesota Visiting Nurse Agency, Minnesota Pharmacists Association, and Minnesota Medical Association are encouraging adults to make vaccinations a priority in 2012.
“Millions of American adults are getting ill, hundreds of thousands are ending up in the hospital, and tens of thousands are dying from vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Dr. Kristin L. Nichol, Associate Chief of Staff for Research at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System and Professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota. “In most cases, the illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths can be prevented by vaccines that are scientifically proven to prevent diseases.”
Immunization is a cost-effective measure with a high success rate in preventing infections such as influenza, meningitis, human papillomavirus, hepatitis B, and pneumonia. In 2010 only 18.5 percent of high-risk adults got a vaccination that protects against pneumonia, a disease which kills approximately 5,000 Americans each year. Approximately 70 million people who should be receiving a pneumococcal vaccination are not yet vaccinated.
“Some people have fears about the safety of vaccines, but the fact is they are safe and pure, and they provide the clear alternative to the often deadly diseases they prevent,” said Dr. Nichol. “To increase adult immunization rates, we must address safety misconceptions, educate and raise awareness of the importance of vaccines, and encourage all health care providers to discuss vaccines with their patients.”
Immunization is commonly regarded as one of the greatest success stories in public health. Vaccines have eradicated smallpox and significantly reduced the number of cases of measles, polio, and other dangerous diseases.
Despite these efforts, an increasing number of Minnesotans are refusing or delaying vaccines. Many people have never witnessed the damaging effects of vaccine-preventable disease, which has led many to feel unconcerned about the importance of getting vaccinated. People refusing vaccines come from all socioeconomic situations, from the impoverished to the highly educated.
Where to get vaccinated: Doctors’ offices, medical clinics, hospitals, most pharmacies, urgent care facilities or walk-in clinics, public health services, corporate employee wellness clinics, community public clinics in grocery stores, community centers and senior centers.
Getting vaccines at the right ages is important, but it is never too late to catch up. To see the full schedule of adult vaccinations under state vaccination law, visit the Minnesota Department of Health website or call the department at 651-201-5503.