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Adult Vaccination Rates Rise, but Not Enough

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Vaccines are just for kids, right? Not any more. U.S. health officials now recommend at least a half dozen vaccines for adults, to prevent pneumococcus virus, hepatitis, shingles and other ailments. And although the portion of adults who get these vaccinations rises slightly each year, the rates are still far too low to slow the spread of dangerous diseases throughout the general population.

Children receive a full slate of vaccinations at a young age, but the schedule for adults—which treatments to receive at which ages—is more complicated. The timing recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can be found at www.vaccines.gov. The CDC recently updated the nationwide vaccination rates that have been achieved for six major illnesses in the schedule. Modest gains have been achieved for Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis) and HPV (human papillomavirus), according to Carolyn Bridges, associate director of adult immunizations, but the number of adults who get those and other recommended vaccines remains very low.

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