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American College of Physicians urges adults to get recommended vaccinations to protect against preventable diseases

Staying up to date on vaccinations can protect against influenza and other common illnesses

PHILADELPHIA, August 18, 2021 – August is National Immunization Awareness Month and the American College of Physicians (ACP) is urging adults to get recommended immunizations for protection against preventable diseases – especially in light of the continuing threat of COVID-19 and its variants.

Health experts fear that potential COVID-19 variant cases this fall and winter along with the onset of the 2021-22 influenza season could result in increased illness, hospitalizations, and again affect access to physicians and could stress the nation’s healthcare systems.

“Immunizations protect against health problems, hospitalization, or even death,” said George M. Abraham, MD, MPH, FACP, President, ACP. “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.”

While many physicians’ offices have resumed in-person visits, physicians and their patients are encouraged to continue to utilize telehealth as appropriate to discuss their health care, including discussions of needed vaccinations and are also are encouraged to visit their physician’s office or community-based vaccine providers (e.g., pharmacies) to receive influenza and other necessary vaccines.

ACP has joined with the nation’s doctors, nurses and public health leaders on the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine and on the critical need to receive the available vaccines, which are safe and effective as they prevent severe COVID-19 illness. We strongly encourage everyone age 12 and older who is eligible to receive the vaccine under Emergency Use Authorization to get vaccinated, as the benefits of vaccination far outweigh any harm.

COVID-19 and influenza vaccinations are not the only important immunizations 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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) guidelines for dosing and schedules. Patients should consult with their physician to determine which vaccines are recommended to them based on their age and risk conditions.

According to a 2019-2020 CDC survey of adults, influenza immunizations for those 19 and older was more than 48 percent, an increase of more than 3 percent from the previous season. Also, influenza vaccination coverage has increased for adults over the past two influenza seasons. However, racial/ethnic disparities in influenza vaccination coverage persist. Hispanic adults and non-Hispanic Black adults had lower vaccination coverage compared to non-Hispanic white adults.

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 161,000 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