Older Australians get behind flu and pneumococcal shots, but whooping cough coverage low in adults

Almost 75% of Australians aged 65 years and older received an influenza vaccination in 2009, and almost 55% were vaccinated against pneumococcal disease, according to the results of a vaccination survey released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Older Australians are a target group for these vaccinations because they are at increased risk of serious complications and death from the two infections.

‘The vaccination coverage for both seasonal influenza and pneumococcal disease in 2009 was similar to previous years,’ said Mark Cooper-Stanbury of the Institute’s Population Health Unit.

Around 96% of people in the 65-plus target group who were vaccinated against seasonal influenza and pneumococcal disease received their vaccinations free of charge under the National Influenza Vaccination Program for Older Australians and the National Pneumococcal Vaccination Program for Older Australians.

The AIHW report, 2009 Adult Vaccination Survey: summary results, is based on a survey of over 10,000 Australians aged 18 years and older.

The report also showed that just over 11% of Australians aged 18 years and over had received a whooping cough vaccination as an adult or adolescent.

‘This is a concern given recent reports of increasing incidence of whooping cough in adults,’ Mr Cooper-Stanbury said.

‘Somewhat encouraging is that uptake was substantially higher, at around 45%, among health care providers, and parents and carers of infants aged less than 12 months, but there is still scope for improvement.’

The AIHW report also covers vaccination status for H1N1 influenza, commonly known as ‘swine flu’.

About 19% of the adult population, or 3 million Australians, had received the swine flu vaccine by December 2009.

‘Uptake for the H1N1 vaccine was higher among at-risk groups, particularly health care providers and child care workers (26%),’ Mr Cooper-Stanbury said.

More information on swine flu vaccination uptake rates can be found in a previously published AIHW report, 2010 Pandemic Vaccination Survey: summary results.


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