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Immunization rates for adults too low, CDC says

Immunization rates among adults are too low and risk a resurgence in vaccine-preventable diseases that were all but eradicated in the U.S., a federal study warns.

Data released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that only 14% of adults age 19 and older in 2012 reported were vaccinated for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, or whooping cough within the past 10 years. The number of adults age 60 and older who reported being vaccinated for shingles was at 20% in 2012, while 35% of women between ages 19 and 26 reported getting vaccinated for human papillomavirus, which protects against cervical cancer.The numbers showed slight gains in coverage compared with 2011. The coverage rate for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis among those between the ages of 19 and 64 went up 3 percentage points to 15.6% in 2012. Vaccination for shingles increased by 4 percentage points over 2011 and the rate of HPV immunization rose by 5 percentage points.

According to the report, a low rate of immunization for pertussis can be linked to a rise in reported cases of whooping cough. In 2012, more than 48,000 cases were reported, marking the highest tally since 1955.

Part of whooping cough's resurgence is attributed to a switch in vaccines in the 1990s. The traditional whole-cell vaccine, or DTP, was replaced with the acellular pertussis vaccine DTaP, which health officials now say does not provide protection for as long a period of time as DTP.

Whooping cough can be particularly deadly in children, and coverage among adults living with an infant under the age of 1 year old was only about 25% in 2012, a figure that remained relatively unchanged from 2011.

Follow Steven Ross Johnson on Twitter: @MHSjohnson
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