Staying up to date on vaccinations can protect against influenza and other common illnesses
PHILADELPHIA August 3, 2023 – August is National Immunization Awareness Month and the American College of Physicians (ACP) is urging adults to get all of their recommended immunizations for protection against preventable diseases such as influenza, RSV, pneumonia, as well as COVID-19.
With the influenza season fast approaching, internal medicine physicians recommend their patients get immunized. Last year, influenza cases started early in the season and were severe requiring more hospitalizations early on than at any point in more than a decade.
As of April 2023, there were nearly 50 million reported cases of influenza requiring more than 25 million influenza medical visits, more than 600,000 related hospitalizations and nearly 60,000 influenza deaths.
However, each influenza season is different; patients are urged to get vaccinated to protect them from infection, missing work, hospitalization, or death. Adults who are 65 or older are at even higher risk for severe influenza-related complications and are now recommended to get a high-dose or adjuvanted vaccine, which can offer greater protection.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaccination coverage for all children as of April 15, 2023 (55.1%) is similar to the estimate at the same time in April 2022 (55.6%), 2.3 percentage points lower compared with same time in April 2021 (57.4%), and 7.1 percentage points lower than in April 2020 at the start of the pandemic (62.2%). National coverage for all adults, including Puerto Rico, is 2.0 percentage points higher this season compared with the same time last season (47.4% compared with 45.4%).
“Vaccinations are safe and effective – and all adults should get recommended vaccines to guard against serious health issues including influenza," said Omar T. Atiq, MD, FACP, ACP President. "Immunizations protect against health problems, hospitalization, or even death and help prevent the spread of disease, especially among those who are most vulnerable to serious complications."
Physicians and their patients are still encouraged to continue to utilize telehealth as deemed appropriate to discuss their health care (including discussions of needed vaccinations) and are also encouraged to visit their physician’s office or community-based vaccine providers (e.g., pharmacies) to receive influenza and other necessary vaccines.
COVID-19 and influenza vaccinations are not the only important immunizations to help patients stay healthy. There are also new RSV vaccines available for older adults ages 60 and older. 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.
The latest adult immunization schedule and recommendations approved by the ACIP are published annually in Annals of Internal Medicine. ACP and other professional organizations reviewed and approved the schedule.
Additionally, ACP’s I Raise the Rates Adult Immunization Resource Hub has been updated and includes 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 160,000 internal medicine physicians, 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, Instagram, and Facebook.
Contact: Andrew Hachadorian, (215) 351-2514, AHachadorian@acponline.org