At-risk older Australians shun free vaccine

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Many older at-risk Australians are failing to take advantage of a free vaccine for the potentially deadly infection pneumococcal pneumonia, health experts are warning.

Lung Foundation Australia says pneumonia claims the lives of about 2000 elderly people each year and is concerned that the vaccination rate for people aged 65 and over has fallen to below 50 per cent.

It says that each year about 15,000 people visit their doctor due to pneumococcal pneumonia and about 8000 people are hospitalised.

Researchers at University of NSW’s Vaccine and Infection Research Lab say governments and doctors must work harder to spread the message that the potentially life-threatening condition is preventable.

“The most recent data suggest pneumococcal vaccination coverage has actually declined to 47 per cent in NSW, with more than half of these vaccinations occurring after 70 years of age,” said the university’s infectious diseases researcher Dr Rob Menzies.

“This decline must be urgently reversed. Doctors should be looking to opportunistically vaccinate those at risk of pneumococcal pneumonia in the same way as they do for other population-based programs.”

The researchers told MJA Insight that the main vaccine was provided free under the National Immunisation Program (NIP) Schedule in the form of a single dose for otherwise healthy people aged 65 years and over. They said people with chronic disease or smokers aged under 65 years should get a prescription from their GP and buy the vaccine which generally costs about $40, but is free in some states.

“It is important for individuals to take the initiative for their own health,” Dr Menzies said. “Anyone who smokes, has a chronic disease, has an immuno-compromising condition or is aged 65 years or older should talk to their GP about whether they should have a pneumococcal vaccination, or revaccination.

“Given pneumonia is a potentially life-threatening respiratory infection, should an individual develop a cough, fever, shortness of breath and feel generally tired and unwell, they should head to their doctor without delay.”

Have you had a vaccination for pneumonia? Do you intend to get one?

This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

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Written by Janelle Ward

28 Comments

Total Comments: 28
  1. 0
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    A coincidence, got mine yesterday along with the Flu vax.

  2. 0
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    We are just turning 65 and my wife has asthma so we were considering the super flu vaccination. Then our electrician who is the same age had the vaccination and immediately became badly ill for over a week with flu and confined to bed.

    Not the best encouragement.

    • 0
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      My first flu vaccination was in 2015 and the same happened to me two weeks later. So i didn’t have a flu shot in 2016 nor 2017. Then in 2017, I had another bout of flu and GP prescribed antibiotics but,I still had the flu shot one this year, just in case. Better to be safe then sorry.

    • 0
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      My understanding is that you can not get the flu from the vaccination, but I had mine last week and the nurse said I might get flu like symptoms but I could not get the flu from it. I do have the flu vaccine every year and so far have never had any bad effects, also had the pneumonia vaccine last year with no side effects, so for me will continue to get it.

    • 0
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      The vaccine takes about two weeks to become effective, so your electrician, Brian, unfortunately already had the flu when vaccinated.

    • 0
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      You are probably right Sceptic. A Doctor will not give you the shot if you are demonstrating Flu like symtoms. It takes a few days for the Flu virus to develope in your system after you contract it anway. My wife and I had the Super Flu injection a week ago and we are fine.

      A point of interest, with the pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine, do you have to have followup period injections, or does one injection do the trick ?

  3. 0
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    Maybe a lot of us are waking up to that the vaccines do not work as there does not appear to be any independent studies done that prove that they work and some of the ingredients well that’s another story, they would kill a brown dog.
    Nutrition is the secret, your imune system was designed to fight all infections and with todays fresh food and awesome amount of information on nutrition you should be able to take back control of your health from the witch doctors and through away the toxic poisons from the pharmaceutical terroists. Time to take back your health, you CAN do it

    • 0
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      Suffered with the flu for many years, have always been well looked after by wife who has always provided great nutritional food, but since the flu is spread by others that have got the flu it’s hard to keep it at bay, I guess being healthy does help prevent the worst of the symptoms, but I have had the flu injection every year for the last 8 years and have not had the flu at all in that time, I guess each of us are different, I think some make the mistake of calling a cold the flu.

    • 0
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      And the earth is flat neil.

    • 0
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      Agree with Jim and have had a similar experience. The school kids are a constant source of random cold and viral infections. Pays to have a packet of Tamiflu (or similar) tabs on hand to lessen the effect of the cold or flu. This is what the doctors do

  4. 0
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    My GP wasn’t going to have any for another 4 weeks !!!! So I went to the local chemist and bought one for $10.99. Free or not, it’s worth having.

  5. 0
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    Dang – I’ve had two bouts of that bloody ‘orrible bronchitis in the past six months… finally had the shot. I’m you typical Aussie bloke who won’t touch an aspirin without good cause.

  6. 0
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    More people would probably take advantage of the free vaccinations available if they could, many can’t as they are either allergic to or have a bad reaction to eggs and most of the vaccinations are grown in an egg cultures.
    Because of this I have been refused a couple of vaccinations I would have liked to have and the doctor warned me to stay away from crowded shopping centres or any where I could be at risk of the flu etc.

    • 0
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      AutumnOz, many years ago I became I’ll after a flu injection, turns out it was cultured in fish eggs/products and I am allergic to fish/shellfish.

      Have had the jabs (cultured in eggs) every years since then and no flu.

      Also I retired the year of the fish cultured jab, so not in big air-conditioned buildings and we do not go into big shopping Centre’s unless it is necessary.

  7. 0
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    Is that pneumonia vax in addition to the higher level flu vax for over 65s ? Or is that vax a separate one ?

  8. 0
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    sorry meant : is that pneumonia vax inincluded in the higher level flu vax for over 65s ?

  9. 0
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    If vaccines don’t work how is that small pox is now eradicated except for research purposes. Vaccines have saved many thousands from death and yet there are still people out there with their conspiracy theorys how it causes autism and other nonsense. My daughtere in law carries on with that nonsense and cites doctors who have since been struck off for purposely misleading for financial gain.
    And you cannot catch the flu from an immunisation shot. People that do get sick could have picked up an infection days before their shot. You can get mild flu like symptoms for a day but that’s about it.

    • 0
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      That’s exactly my understanding, also I think many confuse the flu with a cold, I have faith that most doctors have my best interests at heart and has very little to do with financial gain. My granddaughter is studying to work in medical research her are reasons are completely on compassionate grounds, do nothing to do with financial gain.

  10. 0
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    Since 1995 I have had a total of 4 Pneumonia Vaccine shots. I was advised by my Doctor that seeing I had had that number, I did not require any shots again.
    He also advised that the normal number of Pneumonia shots were 2, and that covered myself for life.
    I cannot get the Flu vaccine as I am intolerant to eggs, which the culture is grown on the albumin to obtain the vaccine.

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