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Continuing improvements in health care, nutrition and disease prevention have led to ageing of the population, a trend which is set to continue. Older age of retirement and greater reliance on older adults for economic sustainability will drive incentives for health ageing. Vaccines are low hanging fruit for healthy ageing, yet under-utilized.
There is a gap between rates of funded infant and elderly vaccination which is leaving older adults susceptible to preventable infections. Adult vaccination is a growing area of need. This includes the elderly and at-risk non-elderly adults in various risk categories such as travel, and with specific medical risk factors for disease.
The elderly have a higher incidence and greater severity of vaccine-preventable diseases, due to both immunosenescence and co-morbidity, and represent the largest group with age-based recommendations for vaccines such as influenza, pneumococcal and herpes zoster. Whilst the number of available vaccines for the elderly and the need for these vaccines has increased, health provider attitudes to elderly vaccination remain negative.
Reasons for this, including ageism in healthcare, will be reviewed, and solutions discussed. The need for a new approach to elderly vaccination will be reviewed.
Presented by Professor Raina MacIntyre
Professor Raina MacIntyre is Head of the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of New South Wales and Professor of Infectious Diseases Epidemiology. She leads a research program in control and prevention of infectious diseases spanning epidemiology, risk analysis, vaccinology, mathematical modelling, public health and clinical trials. She has over 250 peer reviewed publications in medical journals and sits on national and international expert committees in infectious diseases.
Raina has received many awards including the Sir Henry Wellcome Medal and Prize from the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, The Frank Fenner Award for Research in Infectious Diseases, and the PHAA National Immunisation Award. She is best known for research in the detailed understanding of the transmission dynamics and prevention of infectious diseases, particularly respiratory pathogens such as influenza, as well as vaccination and vaccine-preventable infections. She is an international leader
in adult and elderly vaccination.
Raina currently heads a NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Immunisation in under studied and special risk populations: closing the gap in knowledge through a multidisciplinary approach. Within this she also leads the stream on frail elderly vaccination. Raina is a founding director of ARM, which provides field epidemiology infectious diseases response capacity to the Asia–Pacific region, and also leads a new NHMRC Centre for Epidemic Response.