Aussies risk of pneumonia increases

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Almost two in three Australians at risk of pneumonia are not getting vaccinated, research shows.

A survey of 2,500 GP patients found about a quarter of those aged 15 to 64 had at least one risk factor for contracting pneumococcal diseases such as pneumonia and meningitis.

About two in three of those had not been vaccinated, according to research by the University of Sydney’s Family Medicine Research Centre.

But almost 80% of people aged 65 years and over had a pneumococcal vaccination. Risk factors included smoking, diabetes and chronic lung disease.

Professor Robert Booy from the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance said pneumonia was one of the top 10 contributing causes of deaths in Australia.

“Worryingly, this research reveals vaccination coverage is low among people aged 15 to 64 years who are at risk of pneumococcal pneumonia, including people living with diabetes, chronic heart disease, chronic lung disease and tobacco smokers,” Professor Booy said.

He added one of the most common reasons for not getting vaccinated was patient objection, especially among those aged 65 years and older.

“This finding is also particularly concerning, given the number of new cases of pneumococcal pneumonia each year rises exponentially between the ages of 50 and 80 years.”

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