A new push is on to get more adults vaccinated against devastating diseases like pneumonia, shingles and whooping cough. 

Public-health officials and infectious-disease experts are working with physicians, health plans and drugstore chains to better educate adults about what shots they need—and make sure they follow up. State health departments are expanding the use of registries to better document patient vaccine records, and using strategies such as “standing orders” that authorize nurses and pharmacists to administer recommended vaccines without a doctor’s exam or prescription.

Behind the effort is rising concern about the immunization status of the aging baby-boom population. While there has been more progress with geriatric patients, just over 45% of adults 50-64 were vaccinated against influenza in the 2012-13 seasons. And for six important nonflu vaccines, adult rates “are dismally low,” says David Kim, deputy associate director for adult immunization at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Collectively as a health-care system, we need to get the word out to health-care providers to talk about vaccines with their adult patients,” Dr. Kim says.

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