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Vaccination is Europe's greatest public health asset

April 21, 2020  · 2 min read

Written for Parliament magazine, this article discusses vaccination as a crucial public health prevention strategy and stresses the need to boost vaccination coverage rates across the European Union (EU) to protect individuals and others who are vulnerable such as older people and people with immunocompromising conditions.


The International Federation on Ageing (IFA) and the IFA World Coalition on Adult Vaccination work toward increasing vaccination uptake rates on a global scale, particularly among older people and at-risk groups, as well as bringing awareness to the role vaccination plays in healthy ageing and preservation of functional ability.


The IFA’s work on adult vaccination has been done jointly with stakeholders in the fields of vaccination, ageing, public health, and non-communicable diseases. Stakeholders include Dr. Mine Durusu Tanriover, an expert in acute diseases and adult vaccination who speaks to the combined effects of chronic diseases and vaccine preventable diseases on long-term health, and Dr. Jean-Pierre Michel, an expert in the biology of aging who can speak to the decline in immune system function associated with age.


The IFA has found similar barriers to those noted in the article in conducting national and regional meetings on vaccination as a public health priority. A recent report from the Nordic ‘Adult Vaccination: A Public Health Priority’ meeting identified key vaccination barriers including the need for better vaccine registries and surveillance; the need to prioritize vaccination among healthcare professionals; the need for stronger public health messaging around the benefits of vaccination; the need for more effective vaccines; and the need for more cohesive mechanisms of vaccine delivery. These barriers can be elaborated on by adult vaccination expert Dr. Serhat Unal, an attendee of an early IFA adult vaccination expert meeting in Belgium.


The life course approach to vaccination is the focus of the IFA’s World Immunization Week 2018 campaign (24-30 April 2018), and will be showcased at the IFA 14th Global Conference on Ageing, happening 8-10 August 2018 in Toronto, Canada.


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