Iain Curry

Struggling seniors can't afford recommended vaccination

AS MANY as one in two seniors struggling with their finances are unable to pay for a vaccine recommended for older Australians, a new report has found.

The seniors and immunisation report, funded by National Seniors, also found up to 90% of older Australians would get vaccinated if the government paid.

In Canberra on Tuesday, the seniors group called on the government to help pay for immunisations for diseases including shingles, flu, tetanus and pneumococcal.

The report found only pneumococcal and flu vaccines were government-funded, with a major need for government subsidies to help seniors get vaccinated against tetanus and shingles.

It found of the 20% of all seniors who had had shingles, 32% admitted it affected their ability to work - a major constraint, the lobby group argued, given the $40 billion older Australians add to the economy.

Report author Associate Professor Michael Woodward said while more than 90% of Australian children were immunised, that figure fell to between 55% and 75% for the government-funded pneumococcal and flu vaccines in older Australians.

He said with the ageing population, more preventative health measures such as vaccines were needed to ensure older Australian's health was protected.

National Seniors chief executive Michael O'Neill said despite the "neglect" of current vaccine policy for seniors, they were keen to get vaccinated "provided they have government support".



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