Many Adults Skip Vaccines Because Of Costs

The New York Times‘ Patient Money column examines the importance of vaccines for adults.

“The C.D.C. recommends that people 19 and older receive immunizations against as many as 14 infectious diseases. (Not all adults require every vaccine.) Yet most adults rarely think about getting the shots — until they step on a rusty nail or begin planning travel to a developing country. Only 7 percent of Americans over age 60, for instance, have received the herpes zoster vaccine, which prevents shingles, a painful nerve infection. Just 11 percent of young women have received the vaccine against the two types of human papilloma virus that cause 70 percent of all cervical cancers. Why are adults so behind on vaccinations? For one thing, the shots can be expensive (from $20 to $200 a dose for some, and some require three doses). But a bigger part of the problem is a lack of awareness.” But “[t]he new health care law should help get more adults to roll up their sleeves. Under the law, group and individual health plans, as well as Medicare, must provide preventive health services, including immunizations recommended by the C.D.C., free of charge. That means no co-payments, co-insurance or deductibles” (Alderman, 9/24).

Related, earlier KHN story: Health Law Expands Medicare Coverage Of Preventive Care (Andrews, 8/10)

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