Adult Immunizations

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Adult Immunizations
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Adult Immunizations

Each year in the United States, up to 60,000 adults die from vaccine-preventable diseases or their complications. These diseases include influenza, pneumococcal disease, and tetanus among others.

For example, pneumonia and influenza together are the seventh leading cause of death in the US, and the fifth leading cause of death among older adults. Also, most deaths due to tetanus that occur each year in the US (usually less than 50 deaths annually) are in those 60 years of age or older— who have either never been vaccinated, or who completed their primary series but have not had a booster vaccination in the past 10 years. (1)

Vaccine-preventable diseases that are sometimes mild in children can be serious diseases in adults. For instance, serious complications of mumps are more common among adults than among children. Similarly, adolescents and adults are more likely than children to develop severe complications or die when infected with the chickenpox virus. (1)

Another vaccine-preventable disease with potentially serious complications in adulthood is rubella. If rubella occurs during pregnancy, it can result in severe birth defects, miscarriages and stillbirths.

Although vaccines received as children may provide some protection in adulthood, there are several reasons for immunizing the adult population:

The CDC recommends various vaccines for adults, depending on their age, medical condition, and potential risk for a particular disease. (3) Vaccines recommended for adults include: (2)

While childhood immunization coverage rates are above 90% in the US, adolescent and adult immunization rates are under 70%. This is because in the US a financing system and an infrastructure exists for childhood immunizations—such as the Vaccines for Children Act, which provides vaccines for underinsured children. Furthermore, most states enforce vaccination requirements for school entry . Such infrastructure is not in place for adult immunizations. (5)

Many health officials in the US have suggested several strategies to raise immunization rates for adolescents and adults. These strategies include:

So far various organizations such as the National Coalition for Adult Immunization and CDC’s National Immunization Program have implemented some of these strategies to improve immunization coverage among adolescents and adults. (5)


1. National Coalition for Adult Immunization (2004). Facts about Adult Immunization.

2. CDC, National Immunization Program (2004). Adult Immunization Schedule.

3. ACIP (2003). Recommended Adult Immunization Schedule by Age Group and Medical Conditions, United States, 2006-2023.

4. CDC (2005). ACIP Provisional recommendations.

5. National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and the National Coalition for Adult Immunization (2002). A Report on Reaching Underserved Ethnic and Minority Populations to Improve Adolescent and Adult Immunization Rates. Not found

Source: The National Network for Immunication Information,

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