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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

Promoting immunisation throughout life – World Immunisation Week

Promoting immunisation throughout life – World Immunisation Week

This World Immunisation Week, Immunisation for All Ages (IFAA) supports the World Health Organization’s (WHO) statement that, “at all ages, vaccines save lives and keep us safe” and calls upon professional, patient and advocacy organisations, together with all levels of government to increase their investment in prevention policy that supports immunisation at all stages of life.

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Our Experts

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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Enriching Immunization Strategies Post-COVID-19

The recovery of health systems around the world post-pandemic will depend upon a re-evaluation and re-orientation of national health priorities and investment strategies. Faced with the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable including older people and those of all ages with underlying conditions, a thoughtful evidence-based approach to priority-setting must commence now. A reliable framework to improve the health of older people and reduce the health system burden of many infectious diseases is a strong immunization strategy founded upon a life course approach. The WHO Immunization Agenda 2030 in the context of the Decade of Healthy Ageing provides evidence-based guidance to Member States to pursue the benefits of vaccines through four core principles:1.      Placing people in the centre of strategic priorities 2. Securing national leadership of immunization strategies 3. Establishing broad partnerships for implementation 4. Using data as the driving force of national policies A recent article by Devex describes how adoption  of and adherence to strategic priorities outlined in the WHO Immunization Agenda 2030 can be a game-changer in the field of global health.This is a critical time for concerted focus and solidarity around strengthening immunization policies that leave no one behind. The momentum around vaccine development and promotion in light of COVID-19 can build upon existing immunization policies and focus attention on increasing access to vaccines across all ages and socio-economic backgrounds.The link between uptake of existing vaccines against diseases such as influenza or pneumonia and the health system burden of the COVID-19 pandemic is increasingly evident.  As adult vaccination uptake increases, three benefits emerge: 1. Older adults experience fewer complications and outcomes from influenza and pneumonia such as hospitalizations; 2.  Fewer hospitalizations for vaccine-preventable disease complications means that more health care resources, including health professionals, are available to treat COVID-19 patients; and 3.  A long-term reduction in the burden to health systems can result in greater workforce productivity and economic benefits for communities and countries.World Immunization Week (WIW), taking place 24-30 April 2020, is an opportunity for the global community to reflect upon the social and economic benefits of standing-up for the WHO Immunization Agenda 2030. #VaccinesWork for All, the theme of WIW further emphasizes the need to improve access to vaccines globally in an equitable manner that leaves no one behind. The International Federation on Ageing’s (IFA) World Coalition on Adult Vaccination serves as a platform for connecting thought leaders in the field of life course vaccination. The IFA Expert Centre provides a point of contact to specialists in the fields of epidemiology, vaccination and more. For more information on immunization strategies as they relate to older people, contact Prof. Raina MacIntyre, Head of Public Health and Community Medicine in Sydney, Australia or Dr. Isabella Ballalai, President of the Brazilian Immunization Society in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.The IFA 15th Global Conference on Ageing “Rights Matter” in Niagara Falls, Canada 3-5 March 2021 is an international forum for knowledge exchange among global thought leaders in the field of vaccination throughout life. The Vaccines4Life Summit and the IFA Presidential Symposium on Vaccination will feature presentations and interactive workshops from leading experts. Registration is open; visit www.ifa2021.ngo.

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Stop the “dreaded duo” of influenza and COVID-19

While many are focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic and its serious global and local impacts, we should not ignore the concurrent threat of seasonal influenza. According to the US CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), there were an estimated 39 million cases of influenza illness; 400,000 hospitalizations and 24,000 deaths have been linked to influenza during the 2019-2020 season. Flu season in the US is still going strong and could actually last through late May.   Australia and other countries of the south are heading for similar trouble as the oncoming flu season could add further strain to an already overwhelmed health system.There are currently no licensed vaccines or therapeutics for COVID-19. In contrast, vaccines are available for influenza and remain the most effective way to protect against the infection and related life-threating complications.  In line with the most recent WHO guidance for immunization activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, influenza and pneumococcal vaccines are advised for people who are at greatest risk of developing respiratory illness, including health workers, older adults, and pregnant women.  Australia is proactive in its action to advance the annual flu vaccination period to April, which usually started from May. Health authorities are urging Australians to have their flu shot as soon as possible amid concerns that influenza and COVID-19 can be a quite deadly combination. "This year, because we have a vulnerable population from COVID-19, it's super important that those people get protected from the normal flu”, says Dr Antonio DiDio, the Australian Medical Association ACT branch president. However, visiting vaccination clinics at a time of pandemic might be problematic for people at risk. Contact IFA expert Prof. Ross Andrews for best practice for immunizations in the context of COVID-19, who used to be the Chair of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), Australia's peak ministerial immunisation advisory committee. Also consider register for IFA “Vaccines4Life Summit” and the IFA Presidential Symposium on Vaccination at www.ifa2021.ngo. You will have opportunity to network with professionals from various fields, understand the burden of vaccine preventable diseases, and share proven best practices and resources to catalyze action. 

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Wise Words

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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