To introduce a new policy report which sets out the findings of research into immunisation policy in England, Darius Hughes, UK Head of Pfizer Vaccines has written a guest blog for the European Adult Immunisation Hub.
Darius Hughes, UK Head of Pfizer Vaccines
“I am delighted to launch our Injecting Momentum policy report, which sets out the findings of our research into immunisation policy in England, along with policy recommendations to address identified areas for improvement.
It also gives me great pleasure to be able to launch the report on the International Longevity Centre – UK’s European Adult Immunisation Hub, the ‘go-to’ resource on adult vaccination for practitioners and policymakers alike.
Immunisation is a cornerstone of modern public health systems, and has led to the control, lower incidence and even elimination of diseases that in the past resulted in death or disability for millions of people. Vaccination also plays an important role in helping to tackle the growing global health threat of antimicrobial resistance, by reducing infection rates to allow for more sparing use of antibiotics.
In the UK, immunisation policy is rightly recognised as a public health success story to be proud of – successive governments have put in place the investment required to provide quality immunisation services to the public, free-of-charge, through the NHS.
While most vaccines-preventable disease prevalence is being kept at very low levels, recent outbreaks of measles attest to the threat that these diseases continue to pose if vaccination coverage slips. But it is not just infants and adolescents at risk of contracting serious, debilitating and potentially deadly diseases, older adults and those with underlying medical conditions can be vulnerable too.
Despite the success of the childhood immunisation programme, our research finds that coverage rates of vaccines for those working-age adults most at risk of infectious disease lags someway behind. For example, clinicians tell us that a degree of uncertainty and confusion exists in the system when it comes to vaccines for adults deemed to be at risk from pneumococcal disease and that this creates an unnecessary barrier to the uptake of vaccines.
It is clear from the report findings that there is more the UK needs to do to ensure a life course approach to vaccination becomes routine practice – numerous barriers remain, preventing adults from accessing vaccines that can help them to live longer, healthier, more productive lives.
Making progress on this will help support the NHS in realising the ambitions of its five year strategy to move towards more activist preventative care to stem the rising burden of avoidable illness, reduce health inequalities and create the headroom to invest in better care for patients. Today, immunisation programmes have a particularly important role to play in reducing the growing burden on the NHS from avoidable A&E admissions and attendances during the winter period.
We are extremely proud to be part of the vaccination success story in the UK and hope this report sparks a policy debate on how further improvements can be made in the system in England to deliver on the Department of Health’s ambitions on high coverage rates and the NHS’s prevention agenda.
We look forward to working with the Department of Health, the NHS, Public Health England, the ILC-UK and other interested parties to help address these important issues and deliver positive change in immunisation services so that vaccination fully supports good health and prevents disease throughout people’s lives, from infancy to old age.”
‘Injecting Momentum: Policy Recommendations to drive improvement in vaccination coverage’ is now available to download.