WebMD Health News
Daniel J. DeNoon
Louise Chang, MD
July 24, 2009 – Diseases easily preventable by adult vaccines kill more Americans each year than car wrecks, breast cancer, or AIDS.
Yet relatively few in the U.S. know much about these diseases -- and far too few adults get vaccinated, find surveys by the CDC and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID).
"It may surprise you to learn that over 50,000 adults die each year of diseases that are potentially vaccine preventable," NFID president-elect William Schaffner, MD, said at a news conference held to announce the survey results.
"We have a chronic disease epidemic in the U.S. It is taxing our families and taxing our economy," the CDC's Anne Schuchat, MD, said at the news conference. "We have a need for culture change in America. We worry about things when they are really bad rather than focusing on prevention, which can keep us out of the hospital and keep our families thriving."
What are these diseases? Don't be surprised if you don't know. The surveys show that fewer than half of Americans are familiar with this list:
A big problem with getting adults vaccinated is that universal coverage for the cost of vaccines ends when a person turns 19. Many adults think vaccines are just for kids.
As a result, vaccination rates are low. According to the CDC survey:
"These findings show poor insight and possible complacency about adult immunization among the adult population -- and lack of knowledge about vaccine-preventable diseases in general," Susan J. Rehm, MD, medical director for the NFID, said at the news conference.
SOURCES:William Schaffner, MD, president-elect, National Foundation for Infectious Diseases; director of infectious diseases, Vanderbilt University.Anne Schuchat, MD, director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, CDC.Stanley A. Gall, MD, professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and women's health, University of Louisville, Ky.Robert H. Hopkins, MD, associate professor, University of Arkansas.Cora L. Christian, MD, AARP Board of Directors.Susan J. Rehm, MD, medical director, National Foundation for Infectious Diseases; Cleveland Clinic Department of Infectious Diseases.National Foundation for Infectious Diseases survey by Caravan Opinion Research Corp., Feb. 19-22, 2009.News release, CDC.
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