It is now an irrefutable fact that the world’s population is ageing, with an anticipated 1 in 6 people in the world over the age of 65 by 2050, up from 1 in 11 in 20194. From caring for grandchildren and spouses to volunteer work, older people are critical to the livelihood and productivity of societies.
Vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs) such as influenza, pneumonia and shingles are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in older people, who are at higher risk of these infections due to a natural decline in immune system function with age. This decline is manifest in high rates of VPDs amongst older people, with one in five hospitalizations directly related to influenza and pneumonia5.
Despite the evidence supporting the individual, social and economic benefits of adult immunization, vaccination access, availability and uptake rates are suboptimal in the most at-risk populations, that is, older adult populations and those with chronic co-morbid conditions. A life course approach to immunization is central to a comprehensive public health strategy.
Last revision: 23 April 2020
4United Nations (2019). World Population Ageing 2019. Retrieved from https://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/publications/pdf/ageing/WorldPopulationAgeing2019-Highlights.pdf
5Schaffner, W., Chen, W. H., Hopkins, R. H., & Neuzil, K. (2018). Effective immunization of older adults against seasonal influenza. The American journal of medicine, 131(8), 865-873.
6MacIntyre, C. R., Menzies, R., Kpozehouen, E., Chapman, M., Travaglia, J., Woodward, M., … & Adair, T. (2016). Equity in disease prevention: vaccines for the older adults–a national workshop, Australia 2014. Vaccine, 34(46), 5463-5469