Majority of Adults Are Unaware of Recommended Adult Vaccines

Less than 3 in 10 adults know they need vaccinations, which leads to low vaccination rates.

The majority of adults are uninformed about the vaccines that are recommended for their age, and many fail to receive the vaccines recommended in adulthood, according to a new Vaccinate for Life survey.

The survey, which includes data from 6,002 adult participants across five countries, found that fewer than three in ten Americans knew about and had received the vaccines recommended for their age. As a result, 65% of adults age 18 or older were not up-to-date on their recommended vaccines, the findings indicate. The survey was commissioned by GSK and conducted by Ipsos MORI, an opinion research company.

Despite these figures, 47% of adults reported being "very" or "quite" knowledgeable about vaccines. However, when that knowledge was tested, less than half knew what vaccines-outside of tetanus and flu vaccines-were recommended or even relevant to an adult population.

Researchers also highlighted what they described as a lack of urgency among adults to get recommended vaccinations. Nearly half, or 49%, admitted they were likely to prioritize other health services over vaccination.

Leonard Friedland, MD, Vice President and Director of Scientific Affairs and Public Health, Vaccines, North America, for GSK said he believes the results of the survey indicate that adults are failing to take full advantage of the tools at their disposal to prevent serious illness and disease.

"With the exception of flu or tetanus, people often don't know there are other vaccines they may need as adults," he said in a statement announcing the findings. "The truth is vaccines are not something you outgrow."


The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) also regularly examines adult vaccination habits across the United States. The report from NHIS 2015 indicates that, although modest gains have been made in some vaccination rates, significant gaps remain.

For example, according to data provided by the CDC about NHIS 2015, more than one-third of adults 65 or older did not report receiving a pneumococcal or Td vaccine. The majority, or two-thirds, also had not had a shingles vaccine.

The latest study commissioned by GSK further illuminates the gap in knowledge that exists among adult patients about which vaccines they may need.

Health-care professionals, including pharmacists, can help reduce this gap and highlight the benefits of adult vaccines by providing more education to the patients they serve.

"Everyone should familiarize themselves with the vaccines the CDC recommends for adults and speak to their health-care provider about the vaccines they may need," Friedland said in the release.

The Vaccinate for Life survey includes data from participants in Brazil, Germany, India, Italy and the United States.