Australian adults lax on vaccinations

Ethan James
(Australian Associated Press)


Millions of Australian adults are missing out on free vaccinations with a lack of GP consultation part of the problem.

A report published in the Medical Journal of Australia on Monday found while nine in ten children are fully vaccinated, adults are lagging behind.

Half of Australian adults don’t receive government-funded jabs for influenza, pneumonia and shingles, the Vaccine Myopia report found.

The report’s release has coincided with the launch of the University of New South Wales Vaccine and Infection Research Lab.

Head of UNSW VIRL and the report’s co-author Raina MacIntyre said better dialogue between GPs and patients was required.

“One of the biggest reasons is people not being recommended by their health practitioner,” she said.

“No matter how resistant people are, they generally trust their practitioner.

“Most of the people recommended for vaccines are interacting with the health system and nobody ever vaccinates them.”

Some 3,000 people aged over 50 die from influenza each year, while 13,500 are hospitalised.

Prof MacIntyre said vaccines become less effective as you get older but it’s a misconception they don’t work.

“Plenty of research shows that older people, even very frail older people, can mount a good immune response and they do get protected,” she said.

The report found one in four people aged over 65 were not getting the flu vaccine.

This year for the first time the flu shot will be available at pharmacies nationwide, as well as medical centres and GP clinics.

Expanding the availability of the vaccine would increase the total number of people expected to receive it to six million, a Pharmacy Guild of Australia survey found.

Prof MacIntrye said it’s a common misconception the flu vaccine can give you the flu, adding the jab in Australia doesn’t use a live virus.

“There are about 90 different flu vaccines that cause flu-like illness in winter,” she said.

“People might get some other infection, a cold or whatever, and they think they’ve got the flu.

“We do need awareness and improved advocacy.”

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