Each year, thousands of Americans are sickened, hospitalized, and sometimes die from vaccine-preventable diseases.1 The reasons for this are complex, but two notable factors are limited public awareness regarding the role of vaccination and missed opportunities for vaccination during healthcare visits.2 For example, many adults between the ages of 19 and 50 are not up-to-date on vaccines for diseases such as influenza and tetanus.2

This can be due to a lack of understanding that vaccination is not just for children, as well as lack of clear vaccination recommendations from healthcare providers.1,2 But pharmacists are uniquely positioned to engage patients to address these problems by providing information on the role of vaccination in adults, in general, and by giving clear, direct recommendations for vaccination to individual adults.1

  • One approach is to understand what motivates these patients' healthcare decisions regarding vaccination. Many patients are unaware that vaccines are routinely recommended for adults in their age range.2 A simple statement of this fact can go a long way toward increasing vaccination among adults.
  • Some patients who are aware of vaccine recommendations may not be aware of the potential benefits of vaccination in helping to prevent serious illnesses. Some vaccine-preventable illnesses can be associated with missed days of work and extra healthcare costs.3
  • For patients motivated by more altruistic concerns, it can be helpful to remind them that most vaccine-preventable diseases can be contagious, such as influenza, meningococcal meningitis, and whooping cough. Receiving their recommended vaccines may reduce the risk that they will become ill and spread the disease to their loved ones or others.3

References:
1. National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. Call to Action: Adult Vaccination Saves Lives. Bethesda, MD; 2012. 2. Williams WW, Lu P, O’Halloran A, et al. Surveillance of Vaccination Coverage Among Adult Populations — United States, 2014. MMWR Surveill Summ. 2016;65(1):1-36. 3. 10 Reasons to Get Vaccinated. CDC website. http://www.cdc.gov/features/adultvaccinations/. Updated February 8, 2016. Accessed July 8, 2016.

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