Friday, February 5, 2010

Make Adult Vaccinations as Widespread as Those for Children, Say Immunization Advocates (Sponsored by Pharma)/ Medscape

A report claiming "dangerously low" adult levels of vaccinations just came out, sponsored by Trust for America's Health (TFAH), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA). TFAH focused on "emergency preparedness" and "pandemic preparedness" as the first two subjects covered in its last 2 annual reports (2005 and 2006) available on it website. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation was funded by pharmaceutical manufacturer Johnson and Johnson. IDSA was recently sued by Connecticut's Attorney general over conflicts of interest that may have affected the content of guidelines for Lyme Disease treatment issued by the Society.

The report is correct that immunization rates in seniors for influenza and pneumococcal vaccines are far below 100%. But since the evidence to support strong benefits resulting from these two vaccinations in seniors does not exist, logic would suggest this is neither "dangerous" nor too low.

This is simply another shot across the bow-- intended to push policymakers toward mandating more adult vaccinations. More later on the varied methods being used for this purpose.

Snippets from the Medscape article:
The United States needs a national strategy to immunize adults against infectious diseases that would achieve the same success found in childhood immunization efforts, according to a report released today that characterized adult immunization rates as dangerously low.

Between 40,000 and 50,000 adults die each year from vaccine-preventable illnesses, according to the report, published by the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Trust for America's Health.

The report, titled "Adult Immunization: Shots to Save Lives," states that one third of adults aged 65 years and older have not been vaccinated against pneumonia, and 30.5% have not been vaccinated against the seasonal influenza.

Trust for America's Health Executive Director Jeffrey Levi, PhD, said that the 3 report sponsors wanted to capitalize on the visibility and momentum of recent efforts to immunize people against the H1N1 influenza virus.

In contrast to the adult world, efforts to vaccinate children against various diseases have been far more successful, in large measure because state laws require immunization as a condition of attending school or day care, the report stated. No such institutional mandate exists for adults, apart from those in the military or certain colleges...

And from McClatchy comes another talking point for mandating vaccinations: Failure to use the vaccines adds about $10 billion annually to the cost of heath care, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention...

Only 36.1 percent of adults have been vaccinated annually for seasonal flu.

"It sort of plateaued at that level," Glen Nowack, a spokesman for the CDC, said of the seasonal flu shots. "The next groups are not as easily persuadable. They have not been in the habit of getting the influenza vaccine. They have concerns about it, or don't believe it's going to be as effective. We've been working real hard to try and persuade them."

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