May 22nd, 2013
As life spans increase and birth-rates decrease, the world’s population is aging. From 2000 to 2025, the over-60 demographic segment will double from 600 million to almost 1.2 billion. By 2050, it will nearly double again, surpassing two billion and accounting for an incredible 22% of the total global population. A society this “old” has never before existed, and it is a social, ethical, and economic imperative to keep older adults healthy and engaged. It is timely for the global public health community to re-align its thinking, policies and activities to this new demographic reality.
Organizations at national and global levels have begun to pursue initiatives to promote healthy aging, and these efforts are going to intensify in the coming years. Thus far, the progress has been admirable, with the World Health Organization, the United Nations, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and others taking leadership roles. Yet, despite many promising developments, the potential of “life-course immunization,” which stresses the administration of vaccines throughout all stages of life – including for adults – to prevent disease and promote health, has been largely overlooked, especially among adults.
This is a missed opportunity. There is a growing body of research and data to show that immunizations against some of the more specific age-related health challenges – such as pneumococcal disease, herpes zoster, and others – are economically feasible investments that can create large public health benefits.Read the rest of this entry »