Vermont Department of Health Promotes National Adult Immunization Awareness Week

For Immediate Release: Sept. 27, 2007
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON – The Vermont Department of Health is promoting National Adult Immunization Awareness Week, Sept. 23 – Sept. 29, to raise awareness of adult immunizations and to encourage their use.

Additionally, the Health Department will begin a new program that will supply Vermont health care providers with vaccines that they can administer to their adult patients. The program will also work to promote adult immunizations and remove barriers to receiving vaccine, with the goal of improving immunization rates among adults.

The new program will begin in Bennington and will initially supply both the pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccine as well as the combined tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis vaccine. Vaccine will be provided free of charge to health care providers.

"Expanding the availability of vaccines for adults will assist local providers to reduce the burden of infections in the community,” said Mark Novotny, MD, chief medical officer at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center. “We appreciate the Department of Health's efforts and the selection of Bennington County as a pilot project."

The program will expand from Bennington to Rutland, and eventually will be rolled out statewide.

“A significant percentage of adult Vermonters still do not get vaccinated against pneumococcal disease, a cause of pneumonia and blood infections,” said Cort Lohff, MD, state epidemiologist for the Vermont Department of Health. “Only 66 percent of adults for whom the vaccine is recommended have ever been immunized against it.”

Other potentially life-threatening illnesses that can be prevented with safe and available vaccines include influenza, tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella (chickenpox), and pertussis.

“Tetanus is a good example of a vaccine that most people forget about but you need a booster dose every 10 years,” said Dr. Lohff. “You can be working in the garden and get a minor puncture wound and be at risk for tetanus if you are not fully immunized.”

For more information on recommended adult immunizations visit:  http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/spec-grps/default.htm#adults.

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