Updates from the International Federation on Ageing
Adult Vaccination in the Asia Pacific: Mobilising Policy and Practice Knowledge
Experts from the fields of ageing, infectious diseases, public health, medicine and nursing gathered in Singapore recently to discuss adult vaccination uptake in the Asia Pacific region. The IFA is all about helping to influence and shape policy so making the link between ageing and vaccine-preventable diseases from the Australia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan perspectives was enlightening and yet concerning with similar barriers across the countries represented. 

Varying status of population ageing, vastly different population sizes and socioeconomic and political backgrounds underpinned distinct health system infrastructure. Appreciating this variation, delegates demonstrated their drive to improve adult vaccination uptake within their country, and to collaborate within the Asia Pacific region to support one another to expand and improve adult vaccination systems across the region.
Fighting the Flu through Targeted Awareness Campaigns Expert Meeting
(Berlin, Germany)
The European population is ageing rapidly, with the highest proportions represented in Italy and Germany. Influenza vaccination is a critical yet underthought element of a life course approach to vaccination, as older people have a higher chance of developing influenza-related complications that can result in premature morbidity or mortality and can severely limit functional ability. A key strategy to “fight the flu” is through public health communications, which aim to promote health changes in individuals and communities, using strategies and tactics based on science and consumer research. 
For these reasons, the IFA held the “Fighting the Flu through Targeted Awareness Campaigns” expert meeting. The meeting brought together experts in multimodal awareness raising efforts such as social media, digital health marketing, knowledge mobilization and behavioural economics to expand and improve current approaches to raising vaccination public awareness, building public will and furthering public understanding of the risks associated with influenza. The meeting consisted of fruitful presentations and discussions, resulting in new partnerships and communication strategies to fight the flu in Germany, already in formation. 
The IFA recently presented the first in a series of webinars on “Adult Vaccination: A Canadian Perspective.”

The first webinar on ageing and vaccine-preventable diseases in Canada focused on how vaccination can contribute to health and functional ability, highlighting the impact of frailty on health outcomes, as well as the differential impact of pneumonia, influenza and shingles on those at-risk.

The webinar was presented by:

  • Dr Melissa Andrew, Associate Professor of Medicine and Consultant in Geriatric Medicine at Dalhousie University

  • Dr Shelly McNeil, Professor of Medicine and Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases at Dalhousie University

The next webinar in the series will happen in the spring. Details to follow!
Introducing the National Adult Vaccination Program:
The Coalition's newest member organization
How and why did the National Adult Vaccination Program (NAVP) come to be?

NAVP was formed in 2012 as The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) sought ways to improve immunization rates and decrease diseases and their sequelae in older adults. A focus on influenza and pneumococcal disease in older adults was becoming more apparent in public health but needed partners in gerontology to help implement education and training to improve vaccination rates.

What is your role in the NAVP?

GSA convenes and oversees the NAVP with input from our expert workgroup, including chair Gordon Douglas, Jr, MD. GSA staff, including Karen Tracy and Elizabeth Sobczyk, implement program activities.

How does the NAVP fit into the overall mission of the Gerontological Society of America?

GSA is the oldest and largest national interdisciplinary professional membership organization that touches all facets of aging and fosters the application of scientific research into the development of policy, making it a natural home for the NAVP.

What sets NAVP apart from other adult vaccination programs?

NAVP takes a truly multidisciplinary approach to increasing adult vaccination rates - we include physicians, nurses, pharmacists, physician assistants, and all members of the health care team. We also seek to increase awareness among others whom older adults interact with on a routine basis - their physical therapists, social workers, long-term care staff, etc. If the message of vaccination is repeated often enough, it becomes normative and is more likely to result in an older adult being vaccinated.

What are NAVP’s goals for the upcoming year?

NAVP has several goals for the upcoming year, including:
  • Continuing work in improving immunization rates among long-term care staff and residents
  • Hosting the Immunization Champions, Advocates, and Mentors Program
  • Equipping health care professionals with better understanding about the complex processes involved in bringing a vaccine to market
  • Emphasizing emerging research on the effects of disease on older adults, for example the occurrence of thromboembolic events following influenza disease

What does NAVP wish people knew about adult vaccination?

Most importantly, vaccines are effective in protecting adults against a wide range of diseases and their sequelae. They are an important boost for an immune system that naturally wanes as we all age, no matter how much healthy food we eat or how much we exercise.

We also wish that health care providers knew the importance of recommending vaccines to older adults. Without a specific recommendation from a provider, older adults are significantly less likely to be vaccinated.

Last but not least, we wish that people understood the complexities of making and delivering vaccines, from immunology and virology to storage and handling. This very complex enterprise is supported by many scientists and policy makers. Ensuring appropriate quality, access, and financing is needed to make sure systems barriers are minimized for older adults. 
World Coalition on Adult Vaccination Updates
Preventing Influenza Among Medical Residents: An Experience from an Italian Teaching Hospital

Submitted by
Prof. Walter Ricciardi Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
In 2015-16 influenza season, in Italy, almost 5 million people had an influenza-like syndrome and the expected mortality excess reached 8,000 people. Several institutions suggest that high risk people -Medical Residents (MRs) included- get immunized against influenza.

In our Teaching Hospital -IRCCS Fondazione Policlinico “Gemelli”- in Rome, MRs coverage rate reached only 1% in 2014-15 season. To tackle this issue several strategies to increase influenza immunization were performed for both 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons: ambulatory where the vaccination service was offered were doubled and their opening hours extended, invitation via email to the personnel was sent, posters promoting the campaign were hung, a “forum theatre” took place and the vaccination campaign was launched.

In the 2016-17 campaign, we developed a further approach: the On-Site Vaccination against influenza, through which groups of MRs go to every department and after counselling can immunize every health care worker.

From a total of 9.5% in 2015-16 to 18% MRs in 2016-2017 received their vaccine (p<0.001), almost doubling their coverage rate. This significant rise in terms of vaccine uptake, after performing this proactive-multifaceted approach, that did not need any further cost, show encouraging results that need to be followed up time and strengthened.
Seniors On The Move:
A Focus On Vaccine-Preventable Diseases In Older Travellers

Submitted by
Prof. Stefania Maggi and Prof. Jean-Pierre Michel
European Interdisciplinary Council on Ageing
The world’s ageing population and the increasing number of older travellers have important implications, especially for health professionals. A growing number of older people are in better health, and remain mentally and physically active into their golden years. With the time and means at their disposal, it is now easier than ever for older people to fill their retirement years with a wide range of activities, including international travel.

With this in mind, the European Interdisciplinary Council on Ageing (EICA) and the Italian Society of Travel and Migration Medicine (SIMVIM) are jointly organizing a conference this Spring (10-12 April 2019, San Servolo island, Venice, Italy) to raise awareness of vaccine-preventable diseases in senior travellers and to increase participants’ knowledge about the indications and contraindications for each vaccine in this specific population.

Conditions specific to old age, such as immunosenescence, may alter the indications or risk-benefit profile of vaccines in seniors. Therefore, with ever more seniors on the move, to increasingly far-flung destinations, this meeting will be a unique opportunity for healthcare providers to review appropriate vaccination schedules and malaria prevention measures for the senior travellers. Watch this space for recommendations for vaccination of senior traveller after the meeting! 
Animated videos on healthy ageing added to WHO e-library

Submitted by
Mr Gary Finnegan
Vaccines Today
A video on healthy ageing, focusing on the benefits of immunisation for older people, has been added to the WHO e-library of vaccination resources .

The animation, created by Vaccines Today, shares a positive message about older people’s desire to stay active. One way to remain healthy and free to enjoy life is to be vaccinated, the video explains.

It has already been viewed 25,000 times and is now among the top 5 videos on Vaccines Today’s YouTube Channel – which includes over 200 videos. 
Another video from this animated series explains how vaccines are ‘not just for kids’ but are recommended for people at several stages of life. Both videos are freely available for reuse and are offered in eight languages. 
Issues surrounding vaccination in older persons

Submitted by
Prof. Paul Van Buynder
Griffith University
In Australia, there is at times a lack of understanding in primary care about the importance of older person vaccination, the significance of immune-suppression, and which vaccines should be provided to this group. Subsequently vaccine coverage rates are well below optimal levels.

To counter this, Professor Paul Van Buynder of Griffith University, in conjunction with colleagues, A/Prof Michael Woodward and Dr John Litt, and supported by Medicine Today has produced a comprehensive review of issues surrounding vaccination in older persons.

The review included papers on:
  • The Importance and challenges of vaccination in older persons
  • Influenza vaccine in older persons
  • Pneumococcal vaccine in older persons
  • Herpes zoster vaccine in older persons
  • Other vaccination scenarios and issues
In conjunction with the above papers a podcast is being produced in early February as well as a shorter video with the main messages.

All information will be available soon on the internet.
Innovations to improve adult immunization coverage

Submitted by
Ms Lucie Marisa Bucci
Immunize Canada

In September 2018, Immunize Canada launched a new initiative, Innovations to improve adult immunization coverage . The goal of this initiative is to showcase innovative approaches by health providers to increase adult immunization coverage in Immunize Canada’s bi-monthly newsletter.

The Immunize Canada Bulletin has over 2,200 subscribers across the country, including family physicians, family health teams, and public health authorities. Every second issue of the Bulletin showcases a new innovation. Each article features a rationale for, and description of, the intervention; results; health outcomes; barriers and ways to overcome them; and documentation of improvements in adult immunization coverage in these practices. 

To become an Immunize Canada Bulletin subscriber, please go to: https://immunize.ca/subscribe-our-newsletter
Follow adult vaccination at the IFA