Last week, The NACCHO Podcast Series hosted the Adult Vaccine Access Coalition (AVAC) to discuss why it’s so important for adults to get vaccinated. Hosted by the National Association of County and City Health Official’s (NACCHO) Ian Goldstein, the panel included AVAC Co-Directors Lisa Foster and Abby Bownas. Joining them were Co-Chairs Phyllis Arthur of BIO and Laura Hanen of NACCHO.
Abby starts off by describing AVAC, established in 2015, to Ian:
[We are a] diverse group of healthcare providers, vaccine innovators, pharmacies, public health orgs, and patient and consumer groups [who have] all come together to raise awareness, improve access, and bring adult vaccines in line with public health success stories of the childhood immunizations. Our goal is to engage policymakers in working towards common legislative and regulatory solutions to strengthen and enhance access to adult immunization.
While there are a number of vaccines applicable to adults, the flu vaccine was heavily focused on. According to the CDC, only 42 percent of adults received the flu vaccine in the 2015-2016 season. As BIO’s Phyllis Arthur points out, research shows most adults don’t think they need vaccines. Laura Hanen discusses why those low vaccination rates are so tragic:
Vaccines are one of the greatest public health achievements to date – both cost effective and safe. They protect all of us from a variety of common diseases that can be serious – even deadly. Every year, more than 50,000 adults die from vaccine-preventable disease and thousands more suffer serious health problems that could have been prevented by accessing recommended immunizations.
In fact, most people forget you can still die from some of these vaccine-preventable diseases. While trying to increase the flu vaccine rate, you encounter common misconceptions like, “I won’t get vaccinated because it’ll give me the flu” – this is not the case. It’s important to educate and raise awareness about the power of vaccines – they’re one of the most cost-effective and cost-savings interventions we can do.
There is also a significant economic impact on our economy as a result of adults not being vaccinated. Lisa referenced the recent Health Affairs study published on the economic burden attributable to vaccine-preventable disease among US adults.
They studied 10 vaccines recommended for adults 19 and over and found that the burden they estimated for 2015 alone was $9 billion – a significant amount of money for one year. Flu alone was $5.8 billion! A large portion of that cost is attributable to unvaccinated individuals. About 80% of that cost (roughly $7.1 billion) was the result of adults not being immunized.
To hear more from the panel on what keeps adults from getting vaccinated, policy priorities for AVAC, and what’s on the federal policy agenda for 2017 listen to the full podcast here.