Older people suffer disproportionately from infections with vaccine-preventable diseases, particularly influenza, pneumococcal disease, herpes zoster and pertussis. The decline in functionality of T cells that occurs with age, known as immunosenescence, leads to more severe disease in older people when infected and also to reduced responses to vaccines. This problem is compounded by generally lower vaccine coverage rates in this age group.
This supplement reviews the available vaccines for people aged 65 years and over in Australia and their use. It outlines the key risk-benefit discussions for each of the recommended vaccines and presents practical strategies for GPs to improve vaccine uptake in their practices. Case studies highlight important issues, and the vaccine pipeline moving forward is also described. We hope that these articles help you discuss and promote vaccination to your older patients.