Because vaccines have been so successful at controlling diseases like smallpox and polio in the United States, we often take our relatively epidemic-free world for granted. But less than a lifetime ago, these diseases and others were still real threats to health. Despite vaccines’ successes, many people do not know how vaccines work, or that they are not just important for children, but adults too. On December 6th, 2011, the American Academy of Microbiology convened a panel of experts to help explain how vaccines protect us from disease and what vaccination options are available to adults. The report also provides insights into the history of vaccines, why they are so safe, and why adults need to stay up to date on vaccines - to protect their health, and the health of their loved ones.
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Despite the many overwhelming successes of vaccines in the past century, including the eradication of smallpox and near-eradication of polio, many adults do not know how vaccines work, or even realize that the benefits of vaccination do not end in childhood. To help raise awareness of the importance of vaccines for adults, the American Academy of Microbiology has issued a new report entitled FAQ: Adult Vaccines – A Grown Up Thing to Do.
"Because 40,000 adults in the US die each year of vaccine-preventable diseases, it is important for adults to be aware of the options available to them for vaccination” says Dr. Nicola Klein of the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center, a steering committee member for the report.
The report is based on a colloquium convened by the Academy in late 2011, which brought together 18 of the nation’s leading experts to consider and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about vaccines for adults. It provides non-technical, science-based answers to questions that people may have regarding immunization.
Some of the questions the report considers include:
FAQ: Adult Vaccines – A Grown Up Thing to Do is the latest offering in a series of reports designed to provide a rapid response to emerging issues. The FAQ series are based on single-day meetings focused on specific questions and reports are issued quickly - within 2-3 months. Previous FAQ reports have covered topics like the role of microorganisms in cleaning up oil spills and the multifaceted bacterium E. coli.
“The Academy FAQ reports explain complex microbiological problems in a timely, balanced format that is easily understandable by the public, the media and policy makers,” says Stanley Maloy of San Diego State University.