A decline in pneumonia vaccination rates among older Australians has sparked an urgent plea for action by health professionals, who say the infection claims 2000 elderly lives each year.
While the pneumococcal pneumonia vaccination rate for children has climbed to 93 per cent, it has fallen below 50 per cent for seniors, according to an Medical Journal of Australia article.
The figure should be a ‘‘wake up call’’ for Australians aged 65 and over and their doctors, UNSW’s vaccine and infection research lab doctor and co-author Rob Menzies said.
GPs should take further steps to promote the one-off vaccine, with the preventable infection responsible for more than 8000 hospitalisations each year among those aged over 65, Dr Menzies, who has been backed by Lung Foundation Australia, said.
The infection causes the small air sacs of the lungs to fill with pus and fluid, making breathing painful, causing coughing and limiting oxygen intake.
It can be caused by a virus, bacteria or fungi.
In addition to renewed health campaigns, Dr Menzies has called on governments to improve reporting for vaccination rates, with data scarce and often outdated.