Urgent need for investment in adult immunisation infrastructure

David Sinclair, Director of the International Longevity Centre – UK responds to the positive news in relation to the development of a COVID-19 vaccination.

“While the progress in the development of a COVID vaccine will be a relief to many reading the news today, this is not the time to be complacent.”

“In too many places we are already failing to deliver existing vaccinations to adults who need them. The success of a COVID vaccine relies upon us being able to deliver results quickly but we simply don’t have the infrastructure to do what we need to.”

“We’ve had an age-related flu vaccination programme in the UK for twenty years but we still fail to meet the WHO target of 75% uptake among older people.”

“Clinical risk groups fare even worse with far too few people in these groups taking up their rights to vaccination. And only one in two pregnant women take up their entitlement to a free flu vaccination.”

“And with an overwhelmed NHS, and many “at risk” groups and older people asked to shield, it will be even harder to reach those most in need. We must double up efforts, be proactive and innovate.”

“It’s promising to see the Government’s announcement to prioritise older people and “at risk” groups in the roll-out of the vaccine, but it doesn’t end there.”

“With a threat of a second wave ahead of us and the northern hemisphere heading towards the flu season, governments must urgently invest in the infrastructure to deliver vaccination to older adults and ‘at risk’ populations, or we will pay a heavy price.”

“Across the world, we should look to gear up pharmacists and other allied healthcare professionals to support GPs to deliver adult vaccinations this winter and beyond. In many parts of the world pharmacists aren’t allowed to vaccinate despite the shortage of health care professionals and the need to get adult vaccinations out far and wide.”

“It’s fantastic news that we are starting to see very positive results from COVID-19 vaccine research and trials. But without building the infrastructure now, we run the risk of leaving behind those who need it most.”