Universal vaccination is a critical part of quality health care and should be accomplished through routine and catch-up vaccination provided in physicians’ offices. Vaccination rates among adults are considered suboptimal.
All health-care providers, whether they provide immunizations or not, should assess for vaccination status, strongly recommend needed vaccine(s) and either administer vaccine(s) or refer patients to a provider who can immunize, stay up-to-date on, and educate patients about vaccine recommendations, and understand how to access and document immunizations in the Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR).3 Every year thousands of adults in the United States become seriously ill and are hospitalized because of diseases that vaccines can help prevent. It is imperative that health care personnel provide strong recommendations for all Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)-recommended vaccines at every age.
The risk of severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age. CDC strongly recommends that adults 65 years and older receive COVID-19 vaccines. Currently, COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people aged 12 years and older. Further, CDC recommends administration of an additional dose (i.e., a third dose) of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine after an initial 2-dose mRNA COVID-19 primary vaccine series for certain moderately and severely immunocompromised people (i.e., people who have undergone solid organ transplantation or have been diagnosed with conditions that are considered to have an equivalent level of immunocompromise).1
CDC strongly recommends COVID-19 vaccination either before or during pregnancy because the benefits of vaccination outweigh known or potential risks. Health care providers should strongly recommend that people who are pregnant, recently pregnant (including those who are lactating), who are trying to become pregnant now, or who might become pregnant in the future receive COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.1
Further, CDC recommends people aged 65 years and older, adults 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions, and residents aged 18 years and older of long-term care settings should get a booster dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. CDC also recommends people aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions, and people aged 18–64 years at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting, may get a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine based on their individual benefits and risks. Adults aged 18–64 years who work or reside in certain settings (e.g., health care, schools, correctional facilities, homeless shelters) may be at increased risk of being exposed to COVID-19, which could be spreading where they work or reside. The risk of severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age and can also increase for adults of any age with underlying medical conditions.1
COVID-19 vaccines may be administered without regard to timing of other vaccines. This includes simultaneous administration of COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines on the same day. Therefore, if a patient is eligible, both influenza and COVID-19 vaccines can be administered at the same visit. If a patient is due for both vaccines, providers are encouraged to offer both vaccines at the same visit. Coadministration of all recommended vaccines is important because it increases the probability that people will be fully vaccinated.2
Adults aged 65 years and older are at increased risk for influenza and COVID-19 due to weakened immune systems. According to CDC, between 70% and 85% of seasonal flu-related deaths, and 50% and 70% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred in people 65 years and older.2 The best way to protect against flu and its potentially serious complications is with a flu vaccine. CDC recommends that almost everyone 6 months and older get a seasonal flu vaccine each year, ideally by the end of October.
Vaccines are not just for children. It is crucial that all persons, especially adults, are protected against vaccine-preventable diseases. Routine vaccination prevents illnesses that lead to unnecessary medical visits, hospitalizations, and further strain on the health care system. Now is the time to assess the vaccination status of all your adult patients to ensure they are up-to-date on all recommended vaccines.
Please note information in this article is current as of October 1, 2021.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2021, Sep 27). Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Approved or Authorized in the United States. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/clinical-considerations/covid-19-vaccines-us.html
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2020, September 22). Seasonal Influenza (Flu): Flu & People 65 Years and Older. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/highrisk/65over.htm
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2017, July 12). Vaccination Programs: General Best Practice Guidelines for Immunization: Best Practices Guidance of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/acip-recs/general-recs/programs.html