The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has recently released a report detailing results from the Burden of Vaccine Preventable Diseases in Australia study. The study revealed that between 2005 and 2015 the overall rate of vaccine preventable disease (VPD) burden decreased by 31%, demonstrating the value of vaccines.

Results from the AIHW study revealed a reduction in the burden of a number of diseases for which vaccines had been added to, or eligibility extended on, the National Immunisation Program (NIP) Schedule over the last 20 years.

In 1997 the Australian Government created the NIP to increase national immunisation coverage and to reduce the incidence of diseases that are preventable by vaccination. All vaccines listed on the schedule are free to those eligible.

Diseases which saw a decline in the burden of disease between 2005 and 2015 and of which vaccines are available on the NIP include;

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) – 67% decrease
  • Chickenpox – 75% decrease
  • Hepatitis A & Hepatitis B – 75% decrease & 44% decrease respectively
  • Meningococcal disease – 58% decrease
  • Pneumococcal disease – 26% decrease
  • Rotavirus – 85% decrease

CEO of Medicines Australia Elizabeth de Somer said in a statement “The AIHW report confirms that disease and immunisation awareness, coupled with collaboration between industry and Government, provides better health outcomes for the community, individuals and their carers, which we know has a flow-on effect to the economy”.

While many vaccine preventable diseases saw a decline in burden between 2005 and 2015, it is interesting to note that the disease burden of influenza quadrupled and accounted for one-third of the total VPD burden. The report suggests that increased awareness amongst medical professionals and the general public, as well as more accessible testing, has led to an increase in the number of notified cases.

Whooping cough and shingles also increased 73% and 44% respectively over the ten-year period. The increase in these diseases may be attributed to cyclic epidemics as well as changes in disease surveillance and reporting practices.

Long-term widespread vaccination in Australia has been proven effective with diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib, thought to cause meningitis) all remaining controlled and at low levels over recent decades.

VIVA! Communications recognises the importance of health awareness and the value of vaccines in reducing the burden of disease. For the last 8 years, VIVA! has teamed with Lung Foundation Australia to urge at-risk Australians to vaccinate against pneumococcal pneumonia. VIVA! has also teamed with The Pharmacy Guild of Australia for past three years to boost community awareness of influenza.

Read the full AIHW report here.