Submitted on Tue, 2013-08-27
By Cecelia Jacobson

It’s vital that local health departments use their power and standing in their communities to spread awareness about adult immunizations.

adult immunizations

Vaccines are not just for kids. As a society we focus so much on keeping our kids safe and healthy, that we tend to forget about the benefits immunizations have for adults too. From Influenza to Tetanus and other preventable diseases, adult immunizations are a must. It’s vital that local health departments use their power and standing in their communities to spread awareness about adult immunizations.

As an added bonus, billing for adult vaccines is just as profitable as billing for vaccines for children. Spreading awareness keeps your community safer, and helps your local health department secure more revenue to avoid program cuts.

There are a number of great reasons for adults to get immunizations. Focusing on each of the following facts will help improve your health department’s promotional efforts in getting adults to come in and use your services:

  • Some vaccines are just for adults
  • “Cocooning” - Adults getting vaccines helps protect kids by creating a safe barrier around any children they are in contact with 
  • International traveling may require vaccinations
  • The adult may not have been fully vaccinated as a child
  • New vaccines may have been developed
  • Adults with chronic health issues like asthma or diabetes are at increased risk of preventable diseases if they are not immunized

Some vaccines wear off over time too. Pertussis, more commonly known as “Whooping Cough”, has been surging in occurrence the past few years, with more than 41,000 cases reported in 2012. The Pertussis vaccine is administered to children, but often doesn’t last until adulthood. As a result, all adults are now recommended to get the TdaP vaccine to prevent the disease.

Adults are recommended to get the flu vaccine each and every year to help fight off the disease. The flu vaccine is the single best way to stay healthy during flu season. A 2013 CDC study conducted using six years of data found that 13.6 million illnesses, 5.8 million medical visits, and 112,000 flu-related hospitalizations were prevented during those six years because of the vaccine. Just think of what those numbers would look like if everybody were to be getting the vaccine!

Despite all those great reasons, adult immunization rates are still quite low. A report published in a February edition of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report comes to the damning conclusion that “Vaccination coverage levels among adults are unacceptably low” in the United States. In a follow up press conference about the report, Assistant Secretary for Health in the Department of Health and Human Services, Howard Koh, MD, MPH, stated: “It’s important to send the message that vaccine-preventable diseases are critical to the future health of our country and they take a toll on our society.” Local health departments bear the bulk of the responsibility to make sure we as a country follow through on his words.

Ensure your health department’s billing practices are up to date today with our free revenue performance evaluation. Flu season is just around the corner. Capitalizing on adult vaccines during the next couple months could help your local health department save staff or a program that budget cuts had previously put on the chopping block.

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