On the 20th June, 2014 the National Health and Medical Research Council's Centre for Research Excellence in Population Health “Immunisation in under Studied and Special Risk Populations”, in collaboration with the Public Health Association of Australia, hosted a workshop “Equity in disease prevention: vaccines for the older adults”. The workshop featured international and national speakers on ageing and vaccinology. The workshop was attended by health service providers, stakeholders in immunisation, ageing, primary care, researchers, government and non-government organisations, community representatives, and advocacy groups. The aims of the workshop were to: provide an update on the latest evidence around immunisation for the older adults; address barriers for prevention of infection in the older adults; and identify immunisation needs of these groups and provide recommendations to inform policy. There is a gap in immunisation coverage of funded vaccines between adults and infants. The workshop reviewed provider misconceptions, lack of Randomised Control Trials (RCT) and cost-effectiveness data in the frail elderly, loss of autonomy, value judgements and ageism in health care and the need for an adult vaccination register. Workshop recommendations included recognising the right of elderly people to prevention, the need for promotion in the community and amongst healthcare workers of the high burden of vaccine preventable diseases and the need to achieve high levels of vaccination coverage, in older adults and in health workers involved in their care. Research into new vaccine strategies for older adults which address poor coverage, provider attitudes and immunosenescence is a priority. A well designed national register for tracking vaccinations in older adults is a vital and basic requirement for a successful adult immunisation program. Eliminating financial barriers, by addressing inequities in the mechanisms for funding and subsidising vaccines for the older adults compared to those for children, is important to improve equity of access and vaccination coverage. Vaccination coverage rates should be included in quality indicators of care in residential aged care for older adults. Vaccination is key to healthy ageing, and there is a need to focus on reducing the immunisation gap between adults and children.
- Disease prevention
- Older adults’ vaccines