By Desiree Miller, GALTime.com Staff
You keep up with your child's vaccinations like clockwork. But did you know there are some vaccines adults need, too? Leading medical experts say many of us aren't doing a good job keeping up with these critical shots and it's dangerous. American adults are dying because they didn't roll up their sleeves and many others are getting very sick because of it. Leanne Flaig-Hutchinson knows all about it after a serious health threat last year. "I was scared to death that, yes, I was going to die. I had severe chills. My bones were aching from my head to my toes."
She had to be treated for swine flu and her case was complicated by pneumonia, something that could have been avoided if she had received the pneumonia vaccine. You see, she has a chronic condition that impacts her autoimmune system. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that people with chronic conditions get the pneumonia vaccine, but Leanne didn't know. The CDC is warning a lack of awareness can be a real issue, especially during flu season. Dr. Carol Friedman, CDC Associate Director for Adult Immunizations, clarifies, "Definitely there is a relationship between H1N1 influenza infection and bacterial pneumonia and so it is highly recommended that individuals get the pneumococcal vaccine who are at risk."
But it's not just the flu or pneumonia-- each year more than 50-thousand adults die from vaccine-preventable diseases. Experts say the percentage of adults getting vaccinations is extremely low. For example, only 25% of those who qualify for the pneumonia vaccine get it, and only 32% of those who need the Hepatitis B shot do. When asked why so many adults skip, Dr. Friedman says, "They didn't know they needed the vaccine or their physician hadn't recommended it, so there's a lot of room here at CDC or physicians to be doing education and outreach."
While pediatricians and even veterinarians regularly send out immunization reminders, the latest CDC study found that only 22% of doctors almost always ask adult patients about their vaccination status, almost half occasionally or never ask. The American Academy of Family Physicians wants improvement. "It does not happen as much as it should. Medicine is a bit slow. Our health care is about reactive medicine," says Dr. Ted Epperly of the AAFP. If your doctor isn't asking you, Dr. Epperly suggests you ask your doc.
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