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National Adult Immunization Awareness Week

October 22-28, 1989, is the fourth annual National Adult Immunization Awareness Week. This observance emphasizes the importance of appropriately immunizing all adults against eight diseases: diphtheria, hepatitis B, influenza, measles, mumps, pneumococcal disease, rubella, and tetanus. Immunization programs have markedly reduced the incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases in children, but many adults remain susceptible because they are inadequately immunized (Tables 1 and 2).

National Adult Immunization Awareness Week highlights collaborative efforts by federal, state, and local health agencies, public health organizations, and professional, private, volunteer, and other organizations to improve adult immunization. These efforts have included the following:

  • In June 1988, greater than 40 health organizations formed the National Coalition for Adult Immunization (NCAI). NCAI's major goals include increasing public- and private-sector collaboration and involvement in improving the immunization status of adults through information and education programs for providers and consumers.

  • In October 1988, the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) collaborated with CDC in providing resources for nine demonstration projects. Conducted by state, county, and city health departments and one university medical center, these projects will determine whether Medicare payment for influenza immunization increases vaccine coverage and reduces morbidity, mortality, and demand for health-care services. The projects were initiated in 1988, and all will be completed by 1992.

  • In 1988, the State of Hawaii Department of Health, assisted by HCFA and CDC, implemented a Pneumococcal Disease Initiative. The initiative included evaluation of the incidence of pneumococcal bacteremia and mortality in Hawaii; surveys of immunization knowledge, attitudes, and practices among Hawaii physicians and older residents; and a statewide vaccination program for Medicare beneficiaries. From September 1, 1988, through February 23, 1989, community-based mobile clinics administered pneumococcal vaccine to 15,909 elderly residents. Concurrent with the initiative, vaccine sales in the private sector indicated that vaccine use more than doubled.

  • In 1987, CDC entered into a 3-year cooperative agreement with the American Managed Care and Review Association to assist health maintenance organizations (HMOs) in developing adult immunization policies and practices. The agreement involves activities to determine HMO policies and procedures, immunization coverage, and disease impact and to develop intervention strategies. Six HMOs, representing greater than 50,000 enrollees, are participating. Reported by: Div of Immunization, Center for Prevention Svcs, CDC.

    Editorial Note

Editorial Note: Each year, adults develop vaccine-preventable diseases because they have not received the recommended vaccines (1-7). For example, in each of several recent epidemics, greater than 40,000 influenza-related excess deaths occurred (3,8). Approximately 40,000 deaths related to pneumococcal infections and an estimated 300,000 new hepatitis B cases occur annually. Among young adults, the incidence of measles and mumps has increased (4,9). Ten percent to 15% of childbearing-aged women are not immune to rubella, and most Americans greater than 60 years of age lack adequate protection against tetanus and diphtheria. Safe and effective vaccines are available for all these diseases, and the cost of vaccination is substantially less than the cost of treating the disease.

Improving vaccine use among adults requires a multifaceted strategy involving collaboration of health-care providers, consumer groups, and public and private organizations. National Adult Immunization Awareness Week draws attention to efforts that promote prevention and control of vaccine-preventable diseases.


  1. ACIP. Recommendations for protection against viral hepatitis. MMWR 1985;34:313-24,329-35.

  2. ACIP. Update on hepatitis B prevention. MMWR 1987;36:353-60,366.

  3. ACIP. Prevention and control of influenza: part I, vaccines. MMWR 1989;38:297-8,303-11.

  4. ACIP. Measles prevention. MMWR 1987;36:409-18,423-5.

  5. ACIP. Rubella prevention. MMWR 1984;33:301-10,315-8.

  6. CDC. Immunization recommendations for health-care workers. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, 1989.

  7. ACIP. Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine. MMWR 1989;38:64-8,73-6.

  8. Lui KJ, Kendal AP. Impact of influenza epidemics on mortality in the United States from October 1972 to May 1985. Am J Public Health 1987;77:712-6. 9. ACIP. Mumps prevention. MMWR 1989;38:388-92,397-400.

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