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Feature Article

Immunisation: it’s not just for kids

LUCY DENG, RYAN MACDOUGALL, Kristine Macartney

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Abstract

In an ageing population with a high burden of vaccine-preventable diseases, vaccines are equally as important in adults as they are in children. Although there are many potential barriers to adult vaccination, these can be addressed, and every healthcare provider should routinely review the immunisation status of their adult patients as part of health promotion.

Key Points

  • Adults may require vaccines for multiple reasons, including incomplete childhood schedules, waning immunity, medical and lifestyle risk factors, occupation-related risks, travel and migration.
  • The majority of undervaccinated people in Australia (those who are eligible for vaccines under the National Immunisation Program but do not receive them) are adults.
  • Vaccines are one of the key components to healthy ageing, given the high burden of vaccine-preventable diseases in the older population.
  • More vaccines are becoming available and are recommended for the adult population, including zoster vaccine for adults aged 70 to 79 years.
  • Barriers to the delivery of adult vaccinations include cost, lack of documentation of doses previously received and public misconceptions about the need for vaccination in adulthood.
  • The ‘HALO’ (Health, Age, Lifestyle, Occupation) principle can be applied when assessing vaccine requirements for adults.
  • The Australian Immunisation Register, introduced in 2016, aims to capture all immunisations across the lifespan of a person.

    
Picture credit: © BSIP/Medical Images
    Models used for illustrative purposes only

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