This article was originally published by STAT on April 16, 2019.
Vaccines are credited with averting millions of child deaths in the last decade, with most countries offering infants the basic protection of immunization against more than 10 serious diseases. But the risk of infectious disease does not end with childhood: there are clear opportunities to prevent disease throughout life and into old age.
The benefits are myriad, not only in terms of healthier lives but also the reduced health costs for individuals and society. However, despite a commitment to the
concept of prevention, most countries have not yet embraced life-course immunization. Barriers include concerns about financing, competing health priorities, the relative complexity of a heterogeneous population, the lack of a universal adult vaccine delivery platform and broad evidence base to support the value of vaccines
However, with a rapidly aging population, it is imperative that the burgeoning conversation around life-course immunization now accelerates and broadens to encompass all countries. In the same way that a global movement coalesced around child vaccines, the time is now right for us to build a cohesive evidence base and call for policies and programs that extend throughout the life-course, especially for older adults.
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