U.S. adults pass on immunizations, report finds

WASHINGTON More than 30% of seniors in 36 states had not received vaccinations for pneumonia in 2008, despite recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a new report.

The report, "Adult Immunization: Shots to Save Lives," comes from Trust for America’s Health, the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation around the same time that medical journal The Lancet retracted an influential story alleging a connection between the measles-mumps-rubella vaccination for children and autism.

Oregon has the highest immunization rate, but even there, 26.8% of adults ages 65 years and older were not vaccinated. Washington, D.C., had the lowest rate, with 45.6% of seniors not immunized. Millions of American adults go without recommended and routine vaccinations every year, the report found; 2.1% of adults have had the tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough vaccine over the last two years, while 36.1% were vaccinated for seasonal flu in 2008, and 10% of women have had the human papillomavirus vaccine. Overall, this leads to as many as 50,000 preventable deaths and $10 billion in healthcare costs each year.

“Thousands of lives could be saved each year if we could increase the number of adults who receive routine and recommended vaccinations,” Trust for America’s Health executive director Jeffrey Levi said in a statement. “We need a national strategy to make vaccines a regular part of medical care and to educate Americans about the effectiveness and safety of vaccines.”

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