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Nearly half of workers with work-related asthma don’t receive pneumonia shot, study shows

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Washington – Adults with occupational asthma face a higher risk of developing pneumococcal disease, but only 54 percent of them are vaccinated to help ward off an infection, according to a new study from NIOSH.

Pneumococcal disease is an infection that can cause ear infections, meningitis and pneumonia. Workers with occupational asthma are particularly vulnerable to it, NIOSH states.

To assess the use of the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, NIOSH researchers used data from the 2012-2013 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Included in the review were nearly 12 million adults 18 to 64 years old who had asthma and currently and previously had a job. Among that group, researchers estimated that 15 percent had work-related asthma.

The researchers found that only 42 percent of the workers with asthma received a pneumococcal vaccine, which is below the Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2020 goal of 60 percent.

“Our study found that the vaccination coverage for pneumococcal disease among adults who have ever worked and have asthma falls short of achieving the coverage public health experts recommend,” said Katelynn Dodd, lead author and epidemiologist in NIOSH’s Respiratory Health Division. “To increase the number of adults with asthma who are vaccinated against pneumococcal disease, we recommend that health care providers verify if their patients who have asthma have received a pneumococcal vaccine and offer the vaccine to those not vaccinated.”

Vaccination is the safest and most effective way to protect against some of the more than 90 types of pneumococcal bacteria that exist, NIOSH states.

The study was published Sept. 27 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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