Doctors and primary care nurses are being urged to reinforce the message that vaccination is the most effective way to prevent Streptococcus pneumoniae, responsible for an estimated 20% of pneumonia cases in Australia.
Read more: Infectious diseases researcher, Dr Rob Menzies says a healthcare professional’s recommendation to vaccinate, or otherwise, is the most influential factor determining whether a person chooses to protect themselves.
“We’re achieving a 93% pneumococcal vaccination rate among Australian children … yet we’re failing to achieve even a 50% pneumococcal vaccination rate among equally vulnerable seniors,” he writes in an opinion piece in MJA InSight.
The most recent data suggest pneumococcal vaccination coverage has actually declined to 47% in NSW, he adds, with more than half of these vaccinations occurring after 70.
Dr Menzies says doctors should be looking to opportunistically vaccinate those at risk of pneumococcal pneumonia.
- The 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (23vPPV) is provided free under the National Immunisation Program Schedule.
- The 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (13vPCV) is funded for all children, but in adults is recommended (but not funded) only for those with immunocompromising conditions.
- Inclusion of 13vPCV under the NIP for all people aged 65 years and over is under consideration.