Atlanta—From 2009 to 2014, fewer than half of adults in the United States received influenza vaccines, ranging from 37.2% to 43.2%.

That’s according to a new report, published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Researchers from the CDC write that vaccine coverage for flu and other conditions remains low for adults even though vaccine-preventable diseases are more prevalent among that group.

Using the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and other sources, the CDC reports a 2.9% increase in vaccination coverage for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine and a 3.6% increase in use of the herpes zoster vaccine among adults aged 19 years and older from 2013 to 2014.

“Aside from these modest improvements, vaccination coverage among adults in 2014 was similar to estimates from 2013 (for influenza coverage, similar to the 2012–13 season),” study authors note.

Influenza vaccination coverage among adults was 43.2%, while pneumococcal vaccination coverage among high-risk persons aged 19 to 64 years was 20.3% and 61.3% among adults aged 65 and older. The rate of recommended tetanus, diphtheria (Td) vaccination coverage for adults was 62.2%. Rates for hepatitis A, hepatitis B and human papillomavirus vaccinations also were low. While adults having a usual place for receiving healthcare generally were more likely to receive recommended vaccinations, coverage rates still remained low.

“Even among adults who had health insurance and ≥10 physician contacts within the past year, 23.8%–88.8% reported not having received vaccinations that were recommended either for all persons or for those with some specific indication,” according to the CDC researchers, who add, “Overall, increases in adult vaccination coverage are needed.”

The CDC says that practices demonstrated to improve vaccination coverage include:

• Assessment of patients’ vaccination indications by healthcare providers;
• Routine recommendation and offer of needed vaccines to adults;
• Implementation of reminder-recall systems; and
• Use of standing-order programs for vaccination.

Noting that many primary care practices no longer stock a range of vaccines, the CDC suggests that clinicians still recommend immunization at another site, such as a pharmacy.

The report also called on healthcare providers to identify adults who do not have a regular provider or insurance and who report fewer healthcare visits and urge them to be vaccinated.

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