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Got Shots? Immunizations Save Lives, Especially The Lives Of Seniors

February 5, 2010
A February 2010 report entitled Adult Immunization: Shots to Save Lives, released by the Trust for America's Health, the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that more than 33 percent of American adult ages 65 and older had not been immunized against pneumonia as of 2008. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other experts recommend that all seniors be vaccinated against pneumonia—a one-time shot for most individuals—because seniors who get the seasonal flu are at risk for developing pneumonia as a complication. Even in the state with the highest immunization rate, Oregon, 26.8 percent of seniors were not immunized.  Washington, DC had the lowest percentage of seniors immunized, barely more than half. The Adult Immunization report found millions of adults go without routine and recommended vaccinations each year, leading to an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 preventable deaths, thousands of preventable illnesses and $10 billion in preventable health care costs each year. Beyond the low rates of pneumonia immunizations, only 2.1 percent of eligible adults have had the tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough vaccine in the previous two years and only 36.1 percent of all adults were vaccinated against the seasonal flu in 2008.