A new report sets out proposals for the UK to become a world leader in terms of the vaccination of older people.
Immune Response argues that while prevention is better than a cure, vaccination remains an underused public health strategy for adults in the UK and across Europe. According to the WHO, immunisation prevents between 2-3 million deaths a year across all age groups.
Among the thirty plus recommendations set out in Immune Response, ILC-UK call for:
- The piloting of a voucher scheme for those eligible for the seasonal flu vaccine. These vouchers could be used not just in GP surgeries but also in registered high street pharmacies.
- Public Health England and the Department of Health should review whether the current approach to the vaccination of social care workforce in England is appropriate.
- The QOF to include an annual check on the immunisation status of all GP registered patients.
- Healthcare professionals undertaking health check-ups of older people to check whether their patients are up to date with their vaccines.
ILC-UK have also called for an adult vaccination record card which could be carried throughout a lifetime and for GPs to be permitted to privately prescribe approved vaccinations (in addition to travel vaccines) to adults on their books.
David Sinclair, Assistant Director, Policy and Communications at ILC-UK said: “The UK takes a world leading approach to childhood immunisation. With an ageing society we must focus more on prevention of ill health and the vaccination of older people has to play an important role.
"We must improve the levels of vaccination amongst NHS staff whilst also ensuring that employees from the independent social care sector access the vaccinations they need. We must also make vaccination more accessible. An enhanced role for pharmacies could help achieve this. We need an informed consumer who knows what vaccinations they need across their life. An adult vaccination record card for all is vital.
Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: “Nurses are ideally placed to lead the move towards improved adult vaccination in the UK, and checking that patients are up to date with their vaccinations should be part of all routine health check ups.
“Nursing staff are often the first or only point of contact people have with the health service, which means they have the opportunity to talk with patients about all aspects of their health, and encourage a healthier lifestyle. This should also include checking patients are up to date with routine immunisations, which is fundamental to public health.”