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Vaccines 4 Life
Vaccines 4 Life
Vaccines4Life is a knowledge mobilization platform that serves as a point of connection on the most urgent matters related to adult vaccination.

Our Vision

A world of healthy older people whose rights to safe and appropriate vaccines are protected and respected through programs that hold high the principles of prevention, access and equity.

Our News

Sign the Pledge to End Immunization Inequity

The pledge to End Immunization Inequity aligns with the principle of the WHO Immunization Agenda 2030 (IA2030) to “Leave no one behind” and supports the strategic objectives for the Decade of Healthy Ageing to improve the lives of older people, their families and their communities.

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Our Experts

Walking the Talk: Equity in the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

As the world enters its second year living with COVID-19, much of the public attention and investment has shifted to large scale vaccination efforts. Scientists around the world have been called upon to dedicate unprecedented time, resources and energy to the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. The urgency is unquestionable, yet in the rush to vaccinate and be vaccinated personal and global ethics are on the line. We must avoid repeating the same mistakes that have been so starkly illuminated across the global response to the pandemic, namely increasing health disparities and health inequities in many marginalized populations. In a recent article published in the Atlantic entitled “The Vaccine Line Is Illogical” author, Epidemiologist and Professor at the Yale School of Public Health, Dr Gregg Gonsalves reflects on his own experience with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and the implications of exciting strategies for vaccine distribution both nationally (in the United States) and internationally. While equity has been at the forefront of preliminary discussions regarding vaccine distribution, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO has stated that while many countries “speak the language of equitable access, some countries and companies continue to prioritize bilateral deals, going around COVAX, driving up prices and attempting to jump to the front of the queue.” Dr Tedros warns that “the world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure – and the price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries and the world’s poorest people.” Unfortunately, the reality of these disparities are already present. More than 39 million vaccine doses had been distributed across 49 rich countries, while one poorer nation—Guinea—has received just 25 doses. These trends not only exist between high-income and low-income countries, but these disparities are also mirrored within countries. Despite efforts to ensure that those in greatest need of vaccination receive it first, fundamental issues regarding barriers to access have been all but ignored. A recent article entitled “Older adults without family or friends lag in race to get coronavirus vaccines” illustrates that despite the “prioritization” of vaccinating older adults (a population that has been disproportionately affected by COVID-19) many of this population face significant barriers in accessing vaccination gateways and services. Those living alone or with limited mobility may be unable to travel to vaccination sites while others may not have access to the internet, or the digital literacy required to register online for appointments or receive notifications when vaccines become available. Dr. XinQi Dong, Director, Institute for Health, Health Policy and Aging Research at Rutgers University has expressed increasing concern that “barriers to getting vaccines are having unequal impacts on our older population.” Those with limited resources and social supports, the very individuals most in need and at risk of COVID-19, the least likely to receive timely access to vaccination are being left behind. This situation is painfully ironic when leave no one behind (LNOB) is the central, transformative promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals. Initial reporting has indicated that Black and Hispanic individuals in the United States are two to three times less likely than Caucasians to have been vaccinated as of now. These trends extend beyond the United States and beyond even discussions specific to a COVID-19 vaccine. While COVID-19 has shone an unflattering light on public health shortcomings in addressing equity it also provides an opportunity to examine these issues more broadly. Issues of accessibility be it transportation, language or even time are all factors that impact access to other lifesaving vaccinations such as influenza, pneumococcal and shingles. It is imperative that global leaders in public health continue to refine strategies for the equitable distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine, and these lessons learned, and policies developed extend beyond this time of crisis and become foundational to future discussions towards ending immunization inequity. To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and immunisation amongst at-risk populations, contact Dr Holly Seale, Senior Lecturer at the School of Public Health and Community Medicine (SPHMC), University of New South Wales from the IFA Expert Centre. If you are an individual who works with older adults, IFA wants to hear from you to better understand how equity is conceptualized and operationalized within your organizations and countries of origin. To learn more about how to contribute to this important dialogue connect with Ms Anna Sangster (asangster@ifa.ngo), and sign the IFA pledge to End Immunization Inequity. 

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New research suggests influenza and pneumonia vaccines can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Talk to our IFA experts to learn more

By Megan Acton - Program Manager, International Federation on AgeingNew research suggests that the same vaccines that protect older adults against influenza and pneumonia may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.Researchers at the University of Texas searched through medical records of around 9,000 people 60 years old and older, and found that those who had at least one flu shot were 17% less likely to have Alzheimer’s disease, and those who had regular influenza vaccination reduced their risk by an additional 13%.Researchers at Duke University and the University of North Carolina also examined medical records of close to 5,000 people aged 65 years and older and found that those who received vaccination against pneumonia before the age of 75 had a 25% less chance of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.Experts in the field of cognition found these research findings surprising, with Dr. Paul Schulz, Director of the Neurocognitive Disorders Center at McGovern stating, "To have these guys come out and say, well it looks like getting the vaccine is associated with less [Alzheimer's] was totally the opposite of what any of us thought." Further research has demonstrated that vaccine preventable diseases such as influenza may other have secondary protective effects, especially for adults with chronic disease, that information can be found in the IFA’s report, The Secondary Benefits of Influenza Vaccination. This is a fascinating development and if you are a journalist covering this subject – then let our experts help. • Dr. Mine Durusu-Tanriover is a professor of internal medicine in Hacettepe University School of Medicine (Ankara, Turkey) and the author of more than 40 peer-reviewed articles, with expertise in adult vaccination. • Dr. Samir Sinha is a passionate and respected advocate for the needs of older adults, with expertise in adult vaccination, public policy, quality of care, and frailty. Dr. Sinha's breadth of international training and expertise in health policy and the delivery of services related to the care of the elderly have made him a highly regarded expert in the care of older adults.Dr. Durusu-Tanriover and Dr. Sinha are available to speak with media. Simply click on either expert’s icon to arrange an interview today.

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When COVID-19 meets Flu Season

Coronavirus disproportionally affects vulnerable populations including older people and those with chronic diseases such as diabetes, and heart and lung disease. Every year, these same individuals are most impacted by seasonal influenza, with CDC estimates suggesting that 70-85% of influenza related deaths have occurred among people aged 65 years and older. Where death is not the result, influenza can lead to hospitalizations, long standing diminished function as well as acute or long-term complications. A recent Vaccines Today article written by IFA Expert Mr. Gary Finnegan, Editor of Vaccines Today, explains that although a coronavirus vaccine will not be available for the winter of 2020/2021, vaccines are available that protect against influenza. Mr Finnegan goes on to explain that despite this “every year, huge numbers of people who should be vaccinated are not.” The public often underestimates the impact of influenza on the individual and their family; as well as health and social care systems.Vaccinations against diseases such as influenza have been proven to effectively reduce the risk of adverse consequences for adults with chronic diseases and prevent decline in functional ability of older people. A life course approach to vaccination is therefore critical to healthy ageing. Secretary General of IFA, Dr Jane Barratt adds to this point: “We need to look at flu vaccination rates, but also immunization against pneumococcal disease and shingles. Many of the same people suffering the worst of the COVID-19 outbreak are also those who would benefit from these vaccines.”It is for these reasons that IFA, for over 9 years now, has been advocating for a life course approach to vaccination, with focus on at-risk groups. IFA’s work on vaccination, Vaccines4Life, is set within the context of the WHO Decade of Healthy Ageing, and is aligned with the WHO Immunization Agenda 2030. Under this portfolio of work, IFA envisions a world of healthy older people whose rights to safe and appropriate vaccines are respected through programs that hold high the principles of prevention, access and equity. Removing barriers impeding access to vaccination such as cost and complex vaccination pathways are critical to ensuring people of all ages are protected and no one is left behind. One way influenza vaccination rates could be improved is through pharmacists as a vaccinator gateway. In countries such as Portugal, Switzerland, Norway and the United Kingdom, pharmacists are able to administer vaccinations if they complete the required training. This can allow for greater reach to at-risk groups such as older people who may not typically go out of their way to be vaccinated by their doctor. The pharmacist-vaccinator gateway is important for not only influenza season, but also could be useful when a COVID-19 vaccine is released. Do you have an interesting article, video, webinar or podcast that speaks to improving vaccination rates for at-risk groups? Submit your document to the new IFA VacciNet database to share this important knowledge, and reach out to IFA experts Mr Finnegan and Dr Barratt for further comments on the topic area. To learn more on the interrelationship between COVID-19 and other age-related matters (including grandparenting, technology and ageism) visit IFA’s COVID-19 resource library.

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Wise Words

Protecting Progress of Vaccination Throughout Life

April 24 is World Meningitis Day, and on this day, the International Federation on Ageing (IFA) together with the Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (CoMO) and Immunize Canada want to remind you that meningococcal disease is a health risk you should not take.

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Working Together to Defeat Invasive Meningococcal Disease

April 24 is World Meningitis Day, and on this day, the International Federation on Ageing (IFA) together with the Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (CoMO) and Immunize Canada want to remind you that meningococcal disease is a health risk you should not take.

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Join the World Coalition

Health promotion and disease prevention in later stages of life are necessary to a healthy ageing population but require combating ageist attitudes, beliefs and practices of society, healthcare providers and the broader policy environment.

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