Even though vaccines are one of the greatest health innovations of the last century, a new survey shows that among some adults in America there is a lack of awareness around the immunizations they may need as adults. The survey, commissioned by GSK and conducted by Ipsos MORI, showed that fewer than three in ten Americans are aware of and have received the vaccines recommended for adults their age, with 65 percent of adults not up to date.
Dr. Leonard Friedland, VP, Director of Scientific Affairs and Public Health, Vaccines, North America, GSK said: “The results of this survey and the consistently low adult vaccination rates in the United States reinforce the fact that people are not taking advantage of one of the best tools to help prevent disease and keep them healthy later in life. With the exception of flu or tetanus, people often don’t know there are other vaccines they may need as adults. The truth is vaccines are not something you outgrow.”
The survey illustrates the critical gap between awareness and action when it comes to vaccination. For instance:
- Knowledge that vaccines prevent the flu and tetanus is high, but adult vaccination rates for these diseases and others remain low. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu vaccination for adults aged 19-64 was just 41 percent in 2015 (a decrease from 2014 rates), and tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis (Tdap) was just 23 percent. The shingles vaccination rate is just 30 percent for adults 60 years of age and older.
- Nearly half of adults (47 percent) consider themselves to be “very” or “quite” knowledgeable about vaccines, yet less than half know what other vaccines are recommended or relevant for adults, apart from tetanus and flu vaccines.
- While adults say that vaccination is important, they have no sense of urgency to get vaccinated – 49 percent of adults from the Vaccinate for Life survey agree that although achieving a healthy lifestyle is important to them, they are likely to prioritize other health services over vaccination. However, 40,000 deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases occur every year in the United States. Vaccinating adults against pneumococcal disease and the flu can also help protect people against heart attacks and strokes.
Findings from the Vaccinate for Life survey also show that an overwhelming majority of respondents (82 percent) believe adult vaccines are an effective way to help prevent serious illness, yet a significant minority (14 percent) believe they are only needed for travel purposes, not to maintain general health.
Dr. Friedland said: “The value of vaccination doesn’t decrease as we age – it remains a critical component of good health. Everyone should familiarize themselves with the vaccines the CDC recommends for adults and speak to their healthcare provider about the vaccines they may need.”
Empowering adults to proactively ask for the vaccines recommended for them may help increase immunization rates and prevent unnecessary suffering. People should talk to their healthcare providers and ask for the immunizations listed on the schedule to reap the full benefit of vaccinating across the lifespan.
The ‘Vaccinate for Life survey’ was carried out between July 6th and September 14th 2017 via an online survey of adults aged 18 years and over, with an achieved sample of 6,002 respondents, from five countries (Brazil, Germany, India, Italy and the United States).