Australians adults are slack about vaccinations

Peter Terlato 28 March 2017

adult vaccinations

Just one in two adults receive free shots each year.

There is serious concern that millions of Australian adults are forgoing free vaccinations each year, risking preventable, life-threatening infection and disease.

A new report, Vaccine Myopia, published in the Medical Journal of Australia this week found just one in two Aussie adults (51%) are receiving government-funded immunisations each year. Comparatively, 73% of Australian adolescents obtain free vaccinations and 93% of children are vaccinated each year.

Australia's adult vaccination program is performing below objective standards. There are 15 vaccines recommended for adults but not all of these are government-funded. Influenza vaccination rates for those aged 65+ are 75% but pneumococcal pneumonia immunisation rates for the same age range are 30%.

Last year, the International Federation of Ageing (IFA) made immunisation for those aged 65+ a global priority for the foreseeable future, regarding vaccination as one of the most essential and accessible tools to support healthy ageing.

Coinciding with the release of the report, the University of New South Wales launched the Vaccine and Infection Research Lab (UNSW VIRL) in Sydney. The lab will be a hub for national research, investigating low adult vaccination rates in an effort to close the gap between infant and adult immunisation.

"The lab aims to identify, and address barriers to immunisation in the elderly, adults and other risk groups, and work on solutions that place adult immunisation rates on par with infants," UNSW VIRL head and co-author Professor Raina MacIntyre said.

"Each year, Australia accrues tens of millions of dollars on vaccine-preventable hospitalisations. Vaccines should be seen as an investment, rather than a cost. Australians over 65 should get vaccinated against pneumonia and influenza, and shingles too when over 70."

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