Vaccination rates among U.S. adults remain “unacceptably low” for many illnesses, including pneumonia, according to the CDC.

Although coverage rates have increased slightly for some vaccines, such as HPV and Tdap, vaccination rates for most diseases remain stable at low levels, the agency reported in Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report.

“Many adults have not received one or more recommended vaccines,” the CDC wrote. “Routine assessment of adult patient vaccination needs, recommendation, and offer of needed vaccinations for adults should be incorporated into routine clinical care of adults.”

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The report analyzed data from the National Health Interview Survey from 2010-2011 for six vaccines: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, herpes zoster, HPV, pneumococal disease, and Tdap.

The number of women aged 19 to 26 years who received at least one dose of HPV vaccine increased from 20.7% in 2010 to 29.5% in 2011. Only about 3% of males were vaccinated against HPV in 2011, a rate attributable to the fact that recommendations for this population were issued late in 2011.

Tdap vaccination rates increased 4.3 percentage points among the general population to 12.5% in 2011, and 6.5 percentage points in healthcare workers to to 26.8%.

In 2011, hepatitis A vaccination rates increased 1.8 percentage points to 12.5% for adults aged 19 to 49 years, whereas hepatitis B coverage rose just 2.1 percentage points to 35.9% — both well below the Healthy People 2020 90% coverage goal.

Herpes zoster coverage was 15.8% among adults aged 60 years and older, much lower than the recommended 30% coverage rate.

Pneumoccocal vaccine rates remain well below the 2020 targets of 90% for adults aged 65 years and older, at 62.3% in 2011, and 60% for high-risk populations aged 19 to 65 years, at 20.1%.

“Substantial improvement in adult vaccination is needed to reduce the health consequences of vaccine-preventable diseases among adults,” according to the CDC.

More efforts are needed to educate the public about the benefits of vaccines, as well as better access to vaccines in commercial and workplace settings, and proactive programs like vaccine reminder-recall systems, the agency said.

Study limitations include low survey response rates at about 66%, which increase the potential for sampling bias, and reliance on self-reported data that were not validated by medical records.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2013; 62:1-7.