Title : Vaccination of older persons: towards a population approach. Lessons from SARS-CoV-2 in Australia.
Immune senescence and inflammaging render older persons more susceptible to severe consequences of infectious diseases and likely to exhibit poorer responses to vaccination. Older persons need influenza, pneumococcal, herpes zoster, pertussis and SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and soon will need RSV vaccines as well. Uptake of these vaccines will depend on older persons understanding of the importance of disease, reassurance about vaccine safety and vaccine effectiveness and access to immunisers and vaccines at an affordable price.
After pursuing “COVID zero” policies via the world’s longest population lockdowns, the opening of borders in Australia, along with poor messaging around vaccine benefit and safety, saw poor uptake of boosters and the world’s second highest Covid-19 mortality rates, almost all of it in older persons. Each day hundreds of aged residential care establishments had COVID clusters. The failure of messaging and lack of clarity on policies for older person vaccination will prevent meaningful uptake of vaccine in this group. Messaging improvement along with legislative support and a curbing of excessive prices for effective vaccines are urgently required.