Major immunization gaps among older adults of racial and ethnic groups was the core of an expert roundtable comprised of epidemiologists, clinical trial investigators, social scientists, internists/family physician experts and health care system leaders. The experts convened to specifically address lagging influenza immunization rates due to growing racial and ethnic disparities that are well below public health goals among older adults.
Influenza and its complications can cause heart attack, stroke, increased frailty, loss of independence, hospitalization and death among older adults who are especially vulnerable.
The multi-disciplinary panel, convened by Sustainable Healthy Communities (SHC), is developing key strategies and evolving a Call to Action for improving influenza immunization rates among older adults. Gregory Poland, MD, Mayo Clinic and editor-in-chief of the peer-reviewed journal Vaccine, led the scientific exchange.
Experts reviewed evidence-based and clinical data on the role newer influenza vaccines can play for older adults in not only protecting against influenza, but also its complications, such as heart attack and stroke, that can result in hospitalization, the need for assisted living services, and death.
"The goal is to protect all older adults from influenza and its complications," said Dr. Poland. "We are eating soup with a fork with the current methods and approaches being used in the wake of vaccine preventable diseases that are costing us $10 billion or more a year."
A key consensus of the panel in reviewing the data and current intervention approaches found that cognitive, behavioral, public health, and social science can play a critical role in helping to increase vaccine uptake.
"We need a priority matrix that maps to strategies and tactics on how to implement this call to action, starting with the end in mind," said Dr. Poland.
As a next step, SHC's Advisory Board committed to authoring a Call to Action for publication in an international peer-reviewed medical journal. In parallel, SHC's partners will develop priorities and implementation strategies to reach population goals of equitable and universal influenza immunization among older adults.
About Vaccine Preventable Diseases
In the last century, the availability and use of vaccines has dramatically improved the health and well-being of adults and children by protecting against infectious diseases that once commonly caused illnesses, some of which were fatal or severely debilitating. Adult vaccines, including influenza immunizations are known to prevent illness, decrease morbidity and mortality, and lower costs of care. And yet, influenza immunization rates lag well below public health goals among the most vulnerable populations including older adults, with growing racial and ethnic disparities.
About Sustainable Healthy Communities (SHC)
Sustainable Healthy Communities (SHC) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF) and is a pioneering healthcare information company that measures population health, provides actionable analysis to clinicians, health care systems, researchers, corporations and policy makers.
In 2016, a partnership was formed between Sustainable Healthy Communities (SHC), Sanofi Pasteur, a leader in producing vaccines protecting against infectious diseases, and the QHC Advisory Group (QHC), dedicated to delivering cost effective and sustainable solutions to improving health care. For more information, contact Dr. Laura Lee Hall at SHC: firstname.lastname@example.org