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American College of Physicians Urges Adults to Give Immunizations a Shot

Nation's second-largest physician organization committed to helping raise adult immunization rates, especially among adults with chronic conditions

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PHILADELPHIA, October 15, 2012 -- The American College of Physicians (ACP) is urging all adults to get a flu shot and to talk with their internist about other immunizations they might need. People who cannot get a flu shot or other immunizations for medical reasons should talk to their internist about other ways of protecting themselves.

"Flu shots and other immunizations can prevent people from suffering serious illnesses," said David L. Bronson, MD, FACP, president, ACP. "We need to improve immunization rates for all adults, especially for people between the ages of 18 to 65 with chronic conditions."

ACP advises internists, family physicians, and subspecialists to capitalize on adult medical visits by conducting an immunization review to educate patients about the benefits of immunizations and to assess whether the patient's vaccination status is current, referring to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Recommended Adult Immunization Schedule.

The list of vaccines that adults should discuss with their internists includes Tdap (tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis, whooping cough), HPV (human papillomavirus), herpes zoster (shingles), MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), pneumococcal pneumonia, hepatitis B (for adults with diabetes), and varicella (chickenpox).

The U.S. adult immunization rates for 2010 were 8.2 percent for Tdap (for people 19-64 in the past five years), 20.7 percent for HPV (for women 19-26), 14.4 percent for herpes zoster (for people 60 and older), 18.5 percent for pneumococcal (for people 19-64 who are at high risk), and 42.0 percent for hepatitis B among adults (19 to 49) at high risk of infection. Just 39 percent of adults 18 years of age and older received a flu shot in 2011-12.

Immunizations can prevent certain diseases that can be very serious for people with asthma or diabetes or who have had a stroke. People who have any of these conditions should get immunized for flu, pneumococcal pneumonia, whooping cough and tetanus (Tdap), herpes zoster (only for adults 60 years and older), and hepatitis B (only for people with type I or type II diabetes).

While many may be aware of the need to vaccinate children, immunizations for adults are just as important. According to the CDC, up to 2 in 100 adolescents and 5 in 100 adults with pertussis (whooping cough) are hospitalized or have complications, including pneumonia and death.

"It is also important for physicians to immunize themselves, their staff members, and other health care workers," added Dr. Bronson.

Physicians who administer immunizations should ensure appropriate documentation in the patient's medical record.

Immunization Resources from the American College of Physicians

About the American College of Physicians

The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include 133,000 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 and Facebook .