Editorial: Get your shots


Many adults got the message about flu shots this winter but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says too few adults are keeping up-to-date on other important vaccinations.

“Vaccination coverage levels among adults are unacceptably low,” according to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. “Substantial improvement in adult vaccination is needed to reduce the health consequences of vaccine-preventable diseases among adults.”

Vaccination levels for pneumonia for adults aged 19-64 at high risk was 20 percent, according to national sampling data. Tetanus vaccinations were considered updated for adults aged 19-64 only about 64 percent of the time and for older adults only about 54 percent of the time. There are similar issues with vaccinations for diphtheria, pertussis, Hepatitis A and B, shingles and more.

Whites in general have higher vaccination coverage across all age groups compared with Asians, Hispanics and blacks. There is no Oregon-specific data in the report.

The CDC analysis does not dig deep into causes of low vaccination coverage, nor does it go into consequences.

One of the problems is the danger doesn’t feel authentic. Many threats minimized by vaccinations seem to be gone. Polio isn’t ravaging Americans as it once did. The flu may be bad this year, but it’s nothing like the deadly pandemics of the past. There are spikes of concern about whooping cough. But, overall the attitude can be: Vaccinations, ho-hum.

The CDC compares vaccination history to bailing out the water from a boat with a small hole in it. After most of the water is bailed out, the danger doesn’t seem real. But stop bailing and the problem comes back.

So start bailing.

Next time you see your doctor, review if all your vaccinations are up to date. They help protect you and everyone who is ever around you.