Exploring lifelong immunization as a foundation of healthy ageing

The International Federation on Ageing (IFA), in collaboration with Ældre Sagen, convened the Adult Vaccination: A Public Health Priority expert meeting on 16-17 January 2018 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

This international, high-level knowledge exchange platform aimed to highlight vaccination activities of countries in the Nordic region, and to promote dialogue among various stakeholders on how best to improve adult vaccination uptake rates nationally and regionally.

The discussion also focused on how best to bring vaccination to the forefront of the agendas of patient organizations, such as those representing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), respiratory diseases, and diabetes, and come together to emphasize the combined impact of vaccine-preventable diseases on vulnerable people with comorbid conditions.

The overall goal of this meeting was to strengthen the connections among those who have a stake in increasing adult vaccination uptake rates – specifically those working to support the people most affected by vaccine-preventable diseases, including those in the fields of vaccination, ageing, public health, and non-communicable diseases. Each delegate brought to the table a unique perspective of the role of vaccination as part of healthy ageing, and of their role as researchers, practitioners, educators, and influencers in enhancing awareness of vaccinations, increasing uptake rates, and better understanding the complex barriers that allow vaccination uptake rates to stagnate while the ageing population increases.

This meeting revealed the importance of consensus-building among stakeholders, who work together to put forward a cohesive message on the role of vaccination in healthy ageing. The meeting also showed the need to strengthen relationships among various healthcare professionals (HCPs) and professional organizations as well as the connections between HCPs and patient organizations, and to further understand how HCPs prioritize vaccination in their own professional circumstances, with the goal of affirming the role of HCPs, including doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, in vaccine education and delivery.

Additionally, this platform reasserted the need for positive, candid public awareness campaigns on the availability of vaccines, the benefits of vaccination and the consequences of not being vaccinated, especially for people with chronic diseases.

At present, the IFA is preparing a report on the outcomes of the Nordic Adult Vaccination: A Public Health Priority expert meeting, to be published in spring 2018.