Immunizations Matter – National Immunization Awareness Month

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health (CMS OMH) recognizes National Immunization Awareness Month during August. Immunizations—also called vaccinations, vaccines, or shots—protect people of all ages against a wide range of diseases and conditions. Throughout August, and the rest of the year, we’re highlighting the importance of immunizations by working to advance equitable access to vaccines and encouraging all individuals served by CMS to get their routine vaccines.

Each year, the CDC recommends vaccinations like flu shots and COVID-19 vaccines as well as important, routine vaccinations based on different age groups. Despite these recommendations, fewer than 1 in 4 adults who are 19 or older got all their routinely recommended vaccines in 2019 and minority populations have even lower immunization rates. Only 15.9% of Black adults and 17.3% of Hispanic adults get their routine immunization compared to 23.7% of their White counterparts. Additionally, Black (39.0%), Hispanic (37.5%), and adults who identify as other or multiple race (41.4%) have persistently lower flu vaccine rates compared with White adults (49.3%). These racial inequities in vaccination are due to significant disparities in access and health coverage as well as a history of discrimination and distrust.

While vaccination rates for most children’s vaccines are significantly higher, kindergartener vaccination coverage has steadily declined for all vaccines over the past two school years and similar gaps in vaccination coverage exist among children in minority communities. Increasing vaccination rates for all Americans means addressing the social and health inequities that contribute to vaccine disparities.

The Inflation Reduction Act improves coverage and lowers out-of-pocket costs for recommended vaccines in Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. People with Medicare drug coverage will pay nothing out-of-pocket for adult vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) — including the shingles vaccine and Tetanus-Diphtheria-Whooping Cough vaccine. Learn more about these changes.

Health care professionals and partner organizations can encourage their communities to stay up to date on vaccines by emphasizing why immunizations matter and sharing information to help people get the vaccines they need. These resources can help those you serve learn more about recommended vaccinations and how to access them using their health care coverage.