Expert insight

Ageing society: Why adult immunisation delivers health and societal benefits

29 March 2024
  • Laetitia Bigger Director, Vaccines Policy

Vaccines remain one of the most effective public health measures we have. Learn how a greater focus on adult vaccination saves lives, boosts productivity and drives economic growth.

It is estimated that four million deaths worldwide are prevented by childhood vaccination every year. Beyond the number of lives saved, the public health benefits of childhood vaccination lead to cost savings for healthcare systems and wider economic benefits. However, these benefits are often underestimated in adult vaccination, where we risk overlooking substantial benefits.

Adult vaccination combats costly diseases

Preventable diseases cost G20 economies USD 1 trillion in annual productivity loss among those aged 50 to 64 years. This is expected to rise given the demographic shift that many countries are facing. By 2050, the number of adults over 60 is expected to double. While chronic diseases are taking a greater toll than ever, preventable infectious diseases — including flu, pneumococcal diseases or shingles — still have an enormous burden on societies.

The Office of Health Economics (OHE), commissioned by IFPMA, conducted new research evaluating evidence of the value generated by adult immunisation programmes for population health, healthcare systems and societies.

Adult vaccination has a multifaceted value, with positive impacts on caregivers, families, employers and society as a whole.

Healthcare systems should adopt a prevention-first mindset

The recommendations are clear, according to report author Professor Lotte Steuten. “To cope with an ever-growing demand, healthcare systems should adopt a prevention-first mindset that focuses on highly cost-effective interventions like immunisation.”

This shift will help reduce pressure on over-stretched healthcare budgets. By preventing individuals from needing frequent visits to doctors’ offices and hospitals, resources can be allocated more efficiently and working conditions of healthcare professionals will improve.

“But the impact of adult immunisation programmes goes beyond healthcare systems. Adult vaccination has a multifaceted value, with positive impacts on caregivers, families, employers and society as a whole,” Steuten added.

Adult vaccination programmes have a real, positive economic impact. Keeping the workforce healthy and active throughout life gives an obvious boost to productivity and the economy. This is also true for those involved in informal care — employed or retired — assuring the wellbeing of their loved ones.

Realising the full benefits of adult vaccination

While vaccines are one of our most important public health tools, they can also be seen as central to economic productivity and growth. Taking this broader perspective can help governments and health services across the world invest in and unlock further potential from adult vaccination programmes — supporting not just public health but productivity and economic growth.

This blog was originally published by Media Planet on 29 March 2024.