During August, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health (CMS OMH) recognizes National Immunization Awareness Month. Immunizations, often referred to as vaccinations, vaccines, or shots, may include commonly known vaccinations, such as flu shots and COVID-19 vaccines, in addition to other important, routine vaccinations for different age groups. Throughout this month and beyond, we will be highlighting the importance of immunizations and encouraging all those served by CMS to stay up-to-date on routine vaccines.
The CDC recommends certain vaccines, including the Tdap, Td, HPV, influenza, and hepatitis B vaccines, for teens and adults based on different age groups. CDC also recommends that adults over the age of 50 receive the shingles vaccine, pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, and pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, which protect against serious pneumococcal diseases including meningitis and pneumonia. Although significant vaccine-related advancements have been made in the United States, adult vaccination rates still remain low overall, especially among racial and ethnic minority populations, who have been shown to be less likely to be vaccinated against certain diseases than their non-minority counterparts. Among children, vaccination rates have remained above 90% for the majority of recommended pediatric vaccines,
Many factors contribute to lower vaccination rates, including employment, housing, education, and transportation, among other social determinants of health. Additionally, concerns about vaccinations, including vaccine safety, have contributed to recent declines in vaccination rates.
As the vaccine landscape continues to evolve, especially regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, it is important that health care professionals and partner organizations emphasize the importance and benefits of vaccines and share helpful information with the populations they serve on how to get vaccines. Below are resources you can share with your community to help them learn more about vaccinations that are available at no or low cost under most health coverage.
- Visit the Immunization and Vaccine Resources webpage to find immunization resources for health care providers, partners, and patients.
- To find federal COVID-19 vaccine resources, visit the COVID-19 Resources for Health Care Professionals and COVID-19 Resources for Consumers and Patients webpages.
- Download the Annual Influenza Vaccination Disparities in Medicare Beneficiaries data snapshot, which provides information on the importance of flu vaccines as well as vaccine disparities among Medicare fee-for-service populations.
- View the Coverage to Care (C2C) Preventive Services webpage for newly updated flyers that offer information on covered immunizations for adults, teens, children, and infants.
- Download HHS’s Catch-Up to Get Ahead Toolkit, which provides partner resources and graphics to help patients catch up on any missed vaccine appointments due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- Visit CDC’s Adult Immunization Schedule by Vaccine and Age Group webpage and Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule webpage to find out more about recommended vaccines based on age group.
- Visit CDC’s Resources to Encourage Routine Childhood Vaccinations webpage, which provides resources for patients and health care providers to ensure children are up to date on routine vaccinations.
- Learn about Medicare coverage for common vaccines (like those for flu, hepatitis B, and pneumococcal pneumonia).
- Download the CMS Flu Vaccine Partner Toolkit, which includes CMS, CDC, and HHS materials on the importance of receiving the flu vaccine.
- Visit HHS’s We Can Do This Campaign webpage for resources and toolkits that include COVID-19 vaccine information tailored to various patient populations and age groups.
The CDC now recommends COVID-19 vaccines for everyone 6 months and older and boosters for everyone 5 years and older, if eligible. Visit the CDC’s Vaccines for COVID-19 webpage and COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens webpage for the most up-to-date information.