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American College of Physicians Urges Adults to get Recommended Vaccinations to Protect against Diseases

Staying up to date on vaccinations more important than ever during COVID-19 global health crisis says nation’s second-largest physician organization 

Philadelphia, August 19, 2020 – August is National Immunization Awareness Month and the American College of Physicians (ACP) is urging adults to get recommended immunizations for protection against common but sometimes serious diseases – especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, experts fear that COVID-19 cases in the fall and winter and the onset of the 2020-21 flu season will collide to create havoc for patients, healthcare systems and add strain to already stressed frontline workers. 

“Although there are uncertainties with the current COVID-19 global health crisis, we know for sure the benefits of getting immunized for illnesses such as the flu, and that those vaccinations are safe and effective,” said Jacqueline W. Fincher, MD, MACP, president, ACP. “They protect against health problems, hospitalization, or even death. They also help prevent the spread of disease, especially among those who are most vulnerable to serious complications, such as the elderly and those with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems, which is particularly important now given the risks associated with COVID-19.”

The flu vaccination isn’t the only important immunization to help patients stay healthy. Other important adult immunizations include Tdap to protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough); pneumococcal to protect against pneumococcal pneumonia, bacteremia, and meningitis; HPV to prevent cervical, anal, and other cancers; hepatitis A and B; and herpes zoster to help prevent shingles. Each vaccine should be administered according to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) guidelines for dosing and schedules.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a 2017 survey of adults showed that flu immunizations for those 19 and older was only about 45 percent and 68 percent for adults 65 and older; pneumococcal immunizations among high-risk adults 19 and older was about 24.5 percent and 69 percent among adults 65 and older; and , Td or Tdap immunizations for adults 19 and older over a ten-year period was about 63 percent while Tdap vaccination was 32 percent for adults in this age group.

“Now more than ever recommended immunizations must be part of every adult’s health care plans. And physicians should take advantage of the opportunity when immunizing for the flu to make sure their patients are current on other recommended immunizations,” says Dr. Fincher.

And while many physicians’ offices are limiting in-person visits, physicians and their patients are urged to utilize telehealth to discuss their health care, including discussions of needed vaccinations.  And patients are encouraged to come to their physician’s office or visit community-based vaccine providers (e.g., pharmacies) for influenza vaccination and other necessary vaccines. 

The latest adult immunization schedule and recommendations approved by the ACIP are available in Annals of Internal Medicine. ACP and other professional organizations reviewed and approved the schedule. ACP’s I Raise the Rates Adult Immunization Resource Hub has links to useful resources and important information to help physicians increase adult immunizations in their practice.

About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 163,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Contact: Andrew Hachadorian, (215) 351-2514, AHachadorian@acponline.org