Rates for other vaccinations remain low in the United States.
Although COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination rates have received a lot of attention recently, it’s worth noting that there are numerous other vaccines recommended by the CDC in its Adult Immunization Schedule. However, the agency reports that coverage among US adults remains low across the board. There is 1 bright spot: the vaccination rate for herpes zoster (HZ), also known as shingles, has surpassed its Healthy People 2020 goal.
In May, the CDC released data from its most recent annual National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), a continuous, cross-sectional national household survey of the civilian population. The objective of the NHIS is to monitor the health of Americans and to provide estimates of health indicators, health care use and access, and health-related behaviors.1
NHIS data were collected from more than 25,000 adults between 2010 and 2018 to determine if they had received the following vaccines: influenza, pneumococcal, HZ, tetanus and diphtheria, acellular pertussis, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and/or human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines.
Coverage was found to be low in all age groups, and there were racial and ethnic differences that revealed lower coverage for most vaccinations among non-White compared with non-Hispanic White adults.
Additionally, the authors of the report noted that vaccination coverage estimates for 3 out of 4of the vaccines (influenza, pneumococcal, and hepatitis B) did not meet their respective Healthy People 2020 target levels. “Herpes zoster vaccination coverage in 2018 was 4.5 percentage points above the Healthy People 2020 target of 30%,” they added.
HZ vaccination coverage among adults aged ≥50 and ≥60 years in 2018 was 24.1% and 34.5%, respectively, similar to the estimates for 2017. White adults had higher coverage (28.0% and 38.6%, respectively) compared with Black (12.4% and 18.8%), Hispanic (12.2% and 19.5%), and Asian (19.6% and 29.1%) adults.
Shingrix, the only HZ vaccine available in the United States, is approved by the FDA for the prevention of shingles in immunocompetent adults aged 50 and older. The 2-dose series was proven in clinical trials to be up to 90% effective at preventing shingles, and a recent study confirmed that Shingrix is safe and effective even for frail individuals.
Overall, the NHIS report concluded that routine vaccination is an essential preventive care service for all individuals that should not be delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The adult immunization schedule, updated annually, provides current recommendations for vaccinating adults and a resource for persons who provide health care services for adults in various settings,” the report stated.
The report also noted that awareness among the general population of the need for vaccines for adults is low and that adult patients rely on provider recommendations for vaccination.
“Many of the long-established public health actions to increase vaccination coverage among adults can be used for both routine vaccinations and for a COVID-19 vaccine,” its authors advised. “It is important to assess the vaccination status of all patients at each visit to avoid missed opportunities for vaccination and ensure timely vaccine catch-up.”
The report adds that all vaccines that are due or overdue should be administered according to the recommended CDC immunization schedules, unless a specific contraindication exists, to provide protection as soon as possible and minimize the number of health care visits needed to complete vaccination.
Lu PJ, Hung MC, Srivastav A, Grohskopf LA, et al. Surveillance of vaccination coverage among adult populations––United States, 2018. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. May 14, 2021. Doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.ss7003a1external icon.