GPs key to lifting adult vaccination rates
A Perspective article published in the Medical Journal of Australia this week highlights the need for an increased focus on immunising adult Australians. According to the authors, the most important factor influencing vaccination uptake in older patients is a recommendation from a health professional.
The authors of Vaccine myopia: adult vaccination also needs attention, say there are 3.5 million Australians aged 65 and over who are eligible for funded influenza and pneumococcal vaccine, but only 51 per cent of them had received both vaccines when last measured.
The article states that, in addition to advice from a health professional, other factors influencing vaccination uptake in older patients include perceptions about the severity of influenza disease, the effectiveness of the currently available vaccines, and the severity of side effects. The authors note that there are a variety of effective measures to improve coverage rates in the older populations, including reminders for patients and providers, educational interventions and incentives.
In discussing the reasons for the lower vaccination uptake in adults, the authors state that achieving high vaccination coverage in adults is challenging, given their greater mobility and diversity of settings. They cite the lack of an adult vaccination register as a likely contributing factor, and welcome the expansion of the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register across the lifespan, but warned that this is not in itself sufficient.
They say that it will require a concerted effort and substantial support, resourcing and ongoing consultation to achieve good adult coverage, particularly in programs targeted at high risk individuals.