Many adult patients are not aware they need vaccines throughout their lives
August marks National Immunization Awareness Month and the American College of Physicians (ACP) is taking this opportunity to remind internists that it is vital they discuss the importance of vaccines with their adult patients.
Vaccination efforts are frequently focused on children, but they remain crucial for adult patients as well. And that means internists and other primary care physicians who treat adults must stress their importance during patient visits.
According to the ACP, crucial vaccines include the annual influenza vaccination, Tdap (which requires a follow-up injection every 10 years), diphtheria, and meningitis.
“Many adults are not aware that they need vaccines throughout their lives and so have not received recommended vaccinations,” said ACP President Robert M. McLean, MD, FACP, in a news release. “Adults should get a seasonal flu shot and internists should use that opportunity to make sure their patients are up to date on the latest recommended immunizations.”
ACP’s recommendations come at a time when vaccines are often questioned by patients.
“Vaccines are safe, effective, and help prevent illness, hospitalization, and even death, especially among the elderly and those with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems,” said McLean. “Physicians should conduct a vaccine needs assessment with their patients regularly. People who cannot get a flu shot or other vaccines for medical reasons should talk to their internist about other ways of protecting themselves.”
Specific recommendations for adults include an increase to age 26 in catch-up vaccinations for HPV in men. In addition, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) now recommends the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) to adults 65 and older, according to the report.
The full list of recommended vaccinations is currently available in a schedule provided by the Annals of Internal Medicine. The final list will be available in an upcoming edition of the Morbidly and Mortality Weekly Report.