Increases in life expectancy around the world due to significant demographic transitions is a cause for celebration yet a longer life in poor health and function is not a prize. According to the World Health Organization, seasonal influenza epidemics are responsible for three to five million serious illnesses and half a million deaths worldwide, with approximately 89 percent of those deaths among individuals aged 65 years and older. The influenza virus also significantly contributes to decline in functional ability amongst older people.
One of the most cost-effective and affordable strategies to reduce the social and economic burden of infectious disease such as influenza is immunization – a strategy often overlooked in the prevention of functional decline in later life. This comprehensive literature review, conducted by Ms. Vyvyan Mishra, seeks coherence through a synthesis of the literature currently available on the secondary protective benefits of influenza vaccination to older adults with particular focus on older people with chronic diseases such as diabetes and chronic lung disease.
It is hoped that this review will assist civil society, ageing organizations, patient organizations representing those with chronic disease, academics and government to gain a deeper understanding not only of the primary effect of influenza vaccination, but of the secondary protective benefits offered by immunization. In turn, the IFA hopes that a concerted effort by stakeholders across sectors and disciplines can translate this important understanding into tangible actions that enable healthy ageing for generations to come.