Key takeaways

  • This report provides an in-depth review of adult immunisation programmes, focusing on seasonal influenza, pneumococcal disease, herpes zoster (HZ), and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). It employs a structured literature review methodology, focusing on the value of adult immunisation programmes in ten countries from diverse geographies.
  • The evidence found supports the critical role of robust adult immunisation programmes in addressing major health and societal challenges while aligning with critical global agendas such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the WHO Immunisation Agenda 2030 (IA2030).
  • The research also clearly shows that many elements of the value of adult immunisation programmes are currently underrepresented in the academic literature. Without such evidence, the full value of immunisation programmes is likely underestimated by policy and decision-makers, risking suboptimal investment decisions.
  • We call on policy- and decision-makers to adopt a prevention-first mindset, implement and optimise robust adult immunisation programmes that are proven cost-effective, and (support research to) expand the evidence base for the broader value of adult immunisation.

As the world undergoes significant demographic shifts, the convergence of ageing populations, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resurgence of seasonal influenza and RSV places an immense burden on healthcare systems. This report underscores the urgent need for proactive readiness and a shift from reactive treatment to preventive measures.

Shifting Focus to Prevention and Vaccination

A profound shift towards prevention is necessary to address these challenges effectively. Vaccination is a fundamental preventive measure, essential to achieving global health goals such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our report emphasises the need for a broader understanding of adult immunisation programs, which are often overlooked despite their potential to deliver substantial societal benefits.

Adult Immunisation Gaps and WHO’s Strategic Priority

While childhood immunisation has significantly improved globally, our report highlights persistent gaps in adult immunisation programs. Inconsistencies in access across countries and limited inclusion in routine schedules underscore the need for a renewed focus. The WHO’s Immunisation Agenda 2030 (IA2030) recognises this gap, calling for heightened awareness and national strategies to ensure immunisations throughout life.

Value for Healthcare Systems, Population Health and Society

Our report’s findings reveal that adult immunisation programs are highly effective in preventing diseases and delivering substantial cost savings. Recent studies from Australia and Germany showcase how these programs improve health outcomes and alleviate the financial strain on healthcare systems.

Vaccine-preventable diseases continue to exert a significant burden on adult populations, leading to mortality and severe health consequences. The evidence presented in our report underscores the effectiveness of adult immunisation in preventing disease and severe health consequences and supporting healthy ageing, especially crucial for older adults and those with chronic health conditions.

Value of vaccine framework

Figure 1 Value of vaccine framework

Beyond individual health benefits, our report demonstrates the broader societal impacts of adult immunisation programs. By preventing vaccine-preventable diseases, these programs increase productivity, and economic growth, and improve health and economic equity within countries, as Figure 1 shows. Vulnerable populations and underserved communities stand to benefit significantly from expanded adult immunisation coverage.

Discussion and Recommendations

While the burden of vaccine-preventable diseases is projected to rise, the evidence also reveals a gap in understanding the comprehensive value of adult immunisation programs. We call on policymakers to:

  1. Adopt a prevention-first mindset: Now, more than ever, healthcare systems must invest in strategies to cope with unprecedented and growing demand. Prevention must be at the heart of such strategies and robust adult immunisation programmes must be a fundamental component.
  2. Implement and optimise robust adult immunisation programmes: The burden of vaccine-preventable diseases is projected to rise, underscoring the importance of adult immunisation. Expanding access to a broader adult population can generate more value and higher net cost savings for healthcare systems. Such programmes also present a tremendous opportunity to help our societies age well and sustainably long into the future – and deliver an excellent return on investment in the process.
  3. Expand the evidence base for the value of adult immunisation programmes: There are significant gaps in evidence regarding the broader elements of the value of immunisation programmes, indicating a critical need for further research to prioritize and enhance future programmes for the benefit of society and public health. Closing these knowledge gaps is vital for informed decision-making and targeted policy interventions that aim to optimise the value of adult immunisation programmes.

This report was commissioned and funded by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA).