Initiatives to Increasing Immunisation Rates in Australia

Posted on April 23rd, 2019 by Paula Colaso under Blog

Submitted by: The Australian College of Nursing

Australia has a world class, federally funded public health system. The importance of herd immunity and the public health benefits of timely vaccination are recognised and funded through a range of national, state and territory programs. As a result, Australia’s diverse population have access to an age appropriate vaccination schedule, designed to provide immunisation against preventable conditions and additional protection for at risk populations.

The Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Health (2018) lists the range of indications for vaccination as: providing protection against preventable conditions during childhood, catching up on vaccinations missed in childhood, and obtaining the coverage required to reduce the risks associated with traveling to high-risk locations or when working in a high risk occupations, such as health or childcare.

In recent years, strategies aimed at providing additional coverage for at-risk Australian populations, have been announced. In addition to diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough boosters, vaccination against influenza, herpes zoster and pneumococcal disease, are now free for older adults. People employed in high risk occupations receive a free annual influenza vaccination. Websites such as Smart traveller (administered by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade), provide timely advice for consumers and healthcare professionals, seeking vaccination, prior to entering high-risk geographic locations. However, one of Australia’s most vulnerable populations, are our Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people, who for a range of socio-political reasons, experience vastly inferior health outcomes, as compared to non- Indigenous members of the Australian population.

In 2005, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Professor Tom Calma, released the Social Justice Report which called for Australian governments to commit to ‘achieving equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the areas of health and life expectancy within 25 years’ (2031). In his foreword to the most recent Closing the Gap Report (2019), Prime Minister Scott Morrison, re-committed to ‘a whole of government agenda with all governments sharing accountability for progress and extending this shared accountability to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’.

Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people comprise approximately 3% of the total population, living and working in variety of urban, rural and remote locations (Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS] 2018). The most recent census conducted by the ABS in 2016, revealed that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population had a younger structure than Australia’s non-indigenous population, due to the compounding effects of both higher fertility and higher mortality.

In order to confer additional protection, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies are eligible for extra vaccinations under the National Immunisation Program. Additional vaccinations for pneumococcal disease, hepatitis A and influenza are available free of charge to babies living in Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia. In addition to being vaccinated under the National Immunisation Program, all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents and adults, aged 15 years and over, have access to additional free influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations.

In February 2019, the Federal Liberal Health Minister Greg Hunt, launched the National Immunisation Strategy 2019-24 (Hunt 2019). In doing so, Minister Hunt disclosed that, child immunisation rates are at a record high in Australia, adolescent Australians now receive protection against human papilloma virus and meningococcal disease through a school based immunisation programme, expectant mothers have access to a federally funded whooping cough vaccination and all 12 moth old babies now receive free vaccination against meningococcal A, C, W and Y.

Additionally, Minister Hunt announced that 170,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adolescents will receive free influenza vaccines, and an additional $12 million will be spent on an advertising campaign aimed at raising awareness of the benefits of immunisation.

It is hoped that these new initiatives will facilitate the achievement of the Australian Federal Government’s 95% herd immunity target and advance the health and mortality of all Australians.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner 2005, Social justice report 2005, Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission, Sydney. 

Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS] 2018, Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, ABS, Canberra, viewed 21 March 2019, 

Commonwealth of Australia 2018, Immunisation for adults, Department of Health, Canberra, ACT, viewed 21 March 2019,

Commonwealth of Australia 2019, Closing the Gap Report 2019, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Canberra, ACT.

Hunt, G 2019, Free flu vaccines for Aboriginal children and $12 million to boost immunisation, Author, Canberra, viewed 21 March 2019,

In conversation with the Rector of the Hacettepe University, Prof A. Haluk ÖZEN

Posted on April 18th, 2019 by Paula Colaso under Blog

Hacettepe University focuses on preventative healthcare policies and projects including the Vaccine Institute when considering the ageing population.


Representatives: Serhat UNAL and Mine DURUSU TANRIOVER

Question: Professor ÖZEN, could you please give a brief overview of your university?

Prof. ÖZEN: The Chair of Child Health, deemed to be the origin of Hacettepe Faculty of Medicine, was founded as part of the Faculty of Medicine, Ankara University by Prof. Dr. İhsan Doğramacı on February 2, 1954. The foundation stone of the university was laid in 1957 with the Child Health Institute and Hospital within Hacettepe, which began its training, education and research activities and public services in 1958. Hacettepe Medical Center and Hospital were established in 1966. These nucleus institutions were later chartered as Hacettepe University by Law No. 892, enacted on July 8, 1967, which began educational activities in the Faculties of Medicine, Health Sciences, Sciences and Social Sciences. Today, Hacettepe University continues its activities with 15 Faculties, 15 Graduate Schools and Institutes, 2 Applied Schools, 1 Conservatory, 4 Vocational Schools, and 98 Research and Application Centers*. Hacettepe University, as one of the leading universities in the country, keeps contributing to social development and universal values in the fields of science, technology and art.


Question: What are the core values and mission of Hacettepe University and what is the role of the Faculty of Medicine in achieving this mission?

Prof. ÖZEN: Hacettepe University pledges itself to train highly qualified individuals for the future of the country in the light of universal values and availing of its wide experience in science, technology and art, and to offer its output in the fields of research, education and service for the benefit of the society. Shaping our today and tomorrow is the motto of Hacettepe University: to the leading edge, towards being the best. Faculty of Medicine plays a pivotal role in achieving our mission and to prepare for the future. Having introduced several latest practices in Contemporary Medicine Education and health care services to our country, Hacettepe University Hospitals has delivered education to over 11 thousand physicians and nearly 5 thousand specialist physicians within the past 50 years. Hacettepe University Hospitals are built on the wealthy history of the University in medicine and keeps up with the needs of the modern health care system through the teamwork and profound knowledge of privileged scientists and clinicians.  Hacettepe University is the first- and still the one and only- public institution in Turkey to provide health care services in conformity with Joint Commission International (JCI) standards. And since 2007, Hacettepe University Hospitals hold the gold seal of the JCI proudly.


Question: What is your opinion about the current healthcare milieu and what are the steps taken in Hacettepe University to adapt to the challenges of healthcare demand and delivery?

Prof. ÖZEN: The ageing population resulted in a paradigm shift in healthcare. Longer lives and better medical interventions and therapies are of course good news. However, are the healthcare systems ready to carry the burden of a frail patient population with a high chronic disease burden and preventive care needs? Hacettepe University Medical Community, taking the lead in national healthcare, focuses not only current medical practice, but also on the strategies that will help prepare for tomorrow’s challenges. Preventive healthcare policies and services require special attention. In this regard, Hacettepe University invests in projects such as ‘smoke-free’ environment, counseling for healthy lifestyle, lifelong vaccination strategies, preserving the health of the healthcare workers, cancer screens and so on. Recently, we have established a Vaccine Institute, as the unique academic institute dealing with every aspect of vaccination in Turkey**. As a part of this ‘prevention’ focus and the management of the ageing population, our collaboration with the International Federation on Ageing is very timely and valuable.


Question: In which areas and activities did you collaborate with IFA and what are your plans for the future with regards to this alliance?

Prof. ÖZEN: We started our collaboration on adult vaccination on a scientific background with our renowned academicians who are leaders in the field on a national level. Hacettepe University has been supporting a couple of high-level scientific meetings on adult vaccination, which set the ground for Civil Society and Academia alliance.


“We believe that the collaboration of IFA and Hacettepe University can be moved forward on other levels through further activities on other components of healthy ageing. Hacettepe University has the necessary academic resources, expertise and funding and more importantly the motivation for this. Healthy ageing is the only solution for a sustainable healthcare system in today’s challenging health milieu.”


A Brief Overview of the Hacettepe Vaccine Institute

No one of the public health strategies ever did succeed as the vaccines in preventing mortality and disability. Children in Turkey are vaccinated within the frame of ‘Expanded Immunization Programme’ with more than ten antigens by now since 1985. Immunization efforts have been expanded recently as to cover the adolescents and the adults, aiming to set a ‘lifelong vaccination strategy’.

Hacettepe University Vaccine Institute, as the first and only Vaccine Institute in Turkey, has been established in January 2018. The Institute aims to provide education in the field of vaccines, to make research that demonstrates the necessity of vaccine studies focusing on the effects of vaccination on social, economical and cultural dimensions together with other stakeholders.

The Institute consists of three departments at the moment; Vaccine Technologies, Vaccine Studies and Immunization Policies. A master program has been established in Vaccine Studies, which also includes a course on Adult Vaccination. This Master Program aims to educate about vaccine preventable diseases, impact of immunization, safety, vaccine development and the roles of various stakeholders such as academia and governing authorities in vaccine policy setting and immunization programs, focusing on the realities and the needs of the country.

You can visit the official website of Hacettepe University at

New research calls out unconscious age bias as Boomers push back against offensive labels and aging stereotypes

Posted on April 10th, 2019 by Paula Colaso under Blog

IFA Guest Blog: Niary Toodakian, Sr. Manager Advertising and Communications, HomeEquity Bank

HomeEquity Bank eschews labels to smash age-related stigma, and portray Boomers exactly how they view themselves – as positive, adventurous and capable!

Recent marketing campaigns are the latest example of how companies and brands are pushing boundaries and facing complex social issues head-on in an attempt to connect with consumers. But while marketers are making important progress in reducing gender and ethnicity bias, age stereotypes are stubbornly pervasive. Boomers and aging populations are either ignored or portrayed as helpless, frail or fumbling – tired typecasts that are inaccurate and considered offensive based on how this demographic views itself today.

Now, compelling new research from HomeEquity Bank providers of the CHIP Reverse Mortgage® in partnership with neuroscience research firm Brainsights and ad agency Zulu Alpha Kilo, proves that Boomers’ unconscious brains show significantly greater levels of attention, emotional resonance and memorability in response to advertising that avoids labels and portrays the demographic in a positive way.  And a recent IPSOS survey (November 2018) confirmed stereotypical labels to describe older adults are equally out of line with how Boomers see themselves, with nearly 80 per cent of older Canadians 55+  reporting they don’t want to be called ‘seniors’.  In fact nearly 30 per cent preferred no label at all!

“Today’s Boomers are living longer, they are healthier and have more empowered lives than in the past.  Naturally they respond more positively to messages that reflect a more contemporary lifestyle,” said Yvonne Ziomecki, Executive Vice President of HomeEquity Bank. “They don’t see themselves as helpless or frail and certainly don’t want to be reminded of this stereotype. This new research proves something that HomeEquity Bank has known all along – that Boomers see themselves as a positive force with wisdom to be valued as they make informed decisions to manage their retirement in an empowered way.”

Brainsights researchers used electroencephalography (EEG) to analyze the unconscious brain activity of more than 300 Canadians, evenly divided between Boomers (those aged 55 or older) and those younger than 55. Participants were shown a variety of video content, including advertising from HomeEquity Bank, in addition to movie trailers, news clips and holiday advertising. Across the board, participants showed greater levels of attention, connection and memory in response to content that depicted the positive reality of today’s Boomers.

“Age-based identities are created and reinforced by society and through media and marketing that set expectations for how people should behave and conform,” said Kevin Keane, Founder and CEO of Brainsights. “But 55+ audiences don’t see themselves as old and frail. They’re wise and energetic, with a passion for teaching, legacy and life fulfilment. That’s why advertising that presents aging in a positive light, like the HomeEquity Bank spots, are so successful.”

Among the insights revealed is that Boomers are increasingly alienated by old-age stereotypes. Today’s Boomers see themselves as adventurous and capable – important themes that counter the stereotypes prevalent in media. In addition, Boomers respond well to nostalgia tailored to their generation. Personal legacy has emerged as another central theme for today’s Boomers, as is the act of sharing and imparting knowledge to other generations. Like all consumers, today’s Boomers appreciate information that is easy to comprehend and delivered in digestible amounts.

“Sixty-year-olds see themselves the way forty-year-olds did in the past. They have the attitude, the ability, and the money, to be major players in the marketplace for decades to come. Marketers who don’t ‘get’ this – and who don’t reflect this in their messaging — are leaving literally billions of dollars on the table,” shared David Cravit, Vice President of Zoomer Media.

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