Unvaccinated adults vastly outnumber children

Low adult vaccination rates cause more disease than under-vaccinated children but this receives little attention, immunisation experts say.

In a Medical Journal of Australia commentary, communicable diseases specialists say that while the media derides parents who don’t vaccinate, their numbers are tiny compared with the large number of adults who fail to take up free vaccination.

Boosting adult vaccination “is likely to be more successful in preventing disease than policies that sanction vaccine-hesitant parents”, they add.

Of the 3.5 million Australians over 65 who are eligible for funded influenza and pneumococcal vaccine, only half are actually vaccinated.

“Influenza is estimated to be responsible for 300,000 GP consultations, 18,000 hospital admissions and 3000 deaths each year in Australia,” they say.

Adults with medical risk factors, particularly