This report presents results from the Burden of Vaccine Preventable Diseases in Australia study (BVPD study). The BVPD study used incidence-based modelling to estimate burden. This approach reflects the burden of all new cases of disease that occur in the reference year and their immediate and future consequences (including death). Due to differences in methods, results from this report should not be directly compared with those from the Australian Burden of Disease Study or the Global Burden of Disease study.

The Australian Government provides free vaccines to eligible people, including young children, older Australians, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, and others who are at greater risk of serious harm from vaccine preventable diseases (VPD), such as pregnant women. In 2018, the Australian National Immunisation Program (NIP) provided vaccines against 17 diseases.

Results of the BVPD study show a reduction in the burden for a number of diseases for which vaccines have been added to, or vaccine eligibility extended on, the NIP schedule during the past 20 years. These include human papillomavirus (HPV), chickenpox, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, meningococcal disease, pneumococcal disease and rotavirus.

In 2015:

  • 5 diseases accounted for almost 95% of the VPD burden: influenza (36%), pneumococcal disease (24%), HPV (24%), shingles (7%) and meningococcal disease (4%)
  • over three-quarters (80%) of the VPD burden was due to premature death
  • the rate of VPD burden was highest in infants and older Australians (85 years and over). Among those aged 1–74, young adults aged 25–29 had the highest rate of burden. The majority of the burden in this age group is due to the potential long-term outcome of developing cervical cancer following HPV infection.

Between 2005 and 2015:

  • there was a 31% decrease in the overall age-standardised rate of burden due to the 17 VPD included on the NIP schedule
  • the VPD burden rate decreased among infants, young children and young adults, and increased among those aged 65 and over
  • decreased burden in young children was mostly driven by declines in the incidence of rotavirus, pneumococcal and meningococcal diseases, while the sharp decreases for young adults were driven by declines in HPV infection
  • the increased burden in older adults (65 years and over) was mainly due to the increased incidence of influenza and shingles, along with greater numbers of deaths from these 2 diseases.

Estimates of the burden among Indigenous Australians were calculated for 13 VPD: chickenpox, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), hepatitis A, hepatitis B, HPV, influenza, measles, meningococcal disease, mumps, pneumococcal disease, rotavirus, shingles and whooping cough.

  • In 2015, 10% of the burden due to these 13 VPD was among Indigenous Australians. The Indigenous VPD burden rate was 4.1 times the rate for non-Indigenous Australians.
  • Between 2005 and 2015, the age-standardised rate of burden among Indigenous Australians due to the 13 specified VPD decreased by almost 41%.