North Carolina takes aim at preventable diseases

January 8, 2014 by  

Falling vaccination rates across Durham and across North Carolina are becoming a concern for some officials.

Julie Henry, of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, said her department is emphasizing the importance of vaccinations which are age and health appropriate for every citizen. The most recent statistics for North Carolina reveal that only 45 percent of adults in the state take the influenza vaccine. This is lower than totals over the same time for neighboring states, Virginia and South Carolina.

Among the reasons vaccinations have been decreasing is a combination of skepticism concerning the benefits and fears of possible side effects. However, according to health officials, the 50,000 casualties resulting from preventable diseases could be greatly reduced if the public could be convinced of the safety and importance of vaccinations. The move to increase public awareness and participation comes about as the annual estimated cost of influenza is $87 billion. Meanwhile the cost to the individual is going down as insurance companies and employers are increasingly likely to foot the bill for immunization.

Part of the reason for the low rate of immunization is that the lack of regular checkups leaves many adults uninformed of the importance and scope of prevention available. In addition to influenza, inoculations against pneumococcal infections and shingles are also available. Educating the public with the help of print companies and the brochures, pamphlets and banners they create is one way the state health department can work its way to its goal of 90 percent participation for flu shots by 2020.