Vast numbers of under-vaccinated adults are at risk

Tuesday, 28 March, 2017

Vast numbers of under-vaccinated adults are at risk

Up to 3.8 million Australian adults are missing out on free vaccinations each year, putting themselves at risk of contracting life-threatening, yet preventable infections, according to a report set for publication in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA).

The release of the report will coincide with the launch of the University of New South Wales Vaccine and Infection Research Lab (UNSW VIRL) — a national research centre of excellence designed to tackle the serious issue of low adult vaccination rates, and reduce the gap between infant and adult vaccination.

Australia continues to have vast numbers of under-vaccinated adults. Australians aged 65 and over, who constitute the majority of adults missing out on free, age-related vaccinations (influenza, pneumococcal pneumonia and shingles), have an equal right to protection against life-threatening illnesses.

“Vaccination rates are significantly higher among infants versus their grandparents, despite the availability of free vaccines for both groups. This demonstrates the lower value that society places on keeping older Australians healthy,” said UNSW VIRL Head, Professor Raina MacIntyre, Sydney.

The report emphasises that immunisation is just as important for adolescents, older people, those with medical risk factors,
pregnant women and other high-risk groups as it is for children.

Image credit: ©ák István

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