Vaccination uptake among people with chronic respiratory disease

19 December 2012

This report reviews the limited information available in Australia on how many people with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease have the vaccination, and finds that the uptake rate is not as high as would be expected if recommendations were being followed.

Research has shown that vaccinations against influenza and pneumococcal infection are beneficial for people with obstructive airways disease such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Improving vaccination uptake requires action to identify and immunise at-risk populations. Therefore, it is important to know the proportion of people with obstructive airways disease currently vaccinated. Further, information about the distribution of vaccination uptake within this population would assist in targeting interventions to improve vaccination uptake in under-served populations and in monitoring adverse events related to vaccination.

This report reviewed data sources that provide information on the uptake of influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations among people with obstructive airways disease and found that there is very limited information on this subject. As there are no comprehensive prescription or vaccination records or registers for influenza or pneumococcal vaccines, it is not possible to use routine data sources or data linkage for monitoring the use of these vaccinations in people with obstructive airways disease or other similar at-risk population sub-groups.

Available information shows that, for the overall population aged 50 and over, self-reported uptake of influenza and pneumococcal vaccination is higher in those with asthma or COPD than for others. The best influenza vaccination coverage is among people with asthma or COPD aged 65 or older.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have similar or higher influenza and pneumococcal vaccination rates than other Australians in this age group. Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, uptake of both influenza and pneumococcal vaccination is more common among those with asthma than those without asthma and uptake of pneumococcal vaccination, but not influenza vaccination, is higher among those with COPD than those without COPD.

In all groups, uptake of influenza and pneumococcal vaccination is sub-optimal.

The availability of systematic information about the use of vaccines in the community would support the assessment of:

  • the coverage of these vaccines in the general population and in people with COPD and asthma
  • the impact of vaccinations on the target populations and the health-care system including adverse events
  • the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of government-funded immunisation programs.

The report presents a range of options for interventions to improve data for monitoring vaccination uptake, impact among people with asthma and COPD, and vaccine-related adverse events.

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