Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Adults Acutely Feel U.S. Health Care's Non-System

The Centers for Disease Control published extremely low vaccination rates for adults despite widespread public attention the last few years for shots that prevent three diseases, shingles, whooping cough and cervical cancer.

Only about 2 percent of Americans ages 60 and older received a vaccine against shingles in its first year of sales.

About 2 percent of adults ages 18 to 64 got a booster shot against whooping cough in the two years since it hit the market. The force from coughing associated with this disease is strong enough to break a rib. (What do you see on that x-ray, Mr. President?)

About 10 percent of women ages 18 to 26 have received at least one dose of a three-shot series that protects against the human papillomavirus, or HPV, that causes cervical cancer.

The AP report said the main barrier couldn't be cost as people got vaccinated at the following rates for much cheaper shots. Among people 65 or older, a high-risk age, CDC found only 69 percent get an annual flu shot; just 66 percent have had a one-time pneumonia vaccine; and 44 percent had received a tetanus shot in the past 10 years.

I don't know who does the math at the AP but a 2-10% rate for vaccines ranging from $150 to $300 is much lower than 44-69% coverage for the less expensive shots. My flu shot cost around $25 with my insurance paying not one dime. With 47 million uninsured Americans and two thirds of those meeting the President's definition of low income (less than 200% FPL), it's easy to see why so few people received the recommended shots. It's another tribute to the U.S.'s health care nonsystem.

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