Adult Immunization Priorities in the United States

Pneumonia and influenza (P&I) are the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Despite universal coverage under Medicare, one-half to three-quarters of elderly adults fail to get vaccinated against P&I disease. Hepatitis B vaccine is also widely underutilized by adults. Although more than 100 times as many adults as children die from vaccine-preventable disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently allocates the vast majority of federal immunization funds to childhood programs. Top CDC officials say this is in accordance with the will of the Congress and the President. However, analysis of legislative documents shows that there is no legal bar or restriction to the use of federal funds to support adult immunization. CDC has the authority to use federal immunization funds to enhance adult immunization services, but the agency has yet to make adult immunization a priority. A commentary follows.

Author(s): Jason S. Lee

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Volume 74, Issue 2 (pages 285–307)
Published in 1996