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More Than Half Of Seniors Believe Pneumonia Wouldn’t Have Major Health Impact

Older Australians could achieve up to five more years of high quality life, an infectious diseases paediatrician and immunisation expert has said.

Professor Robert Booy said while Australian children are achieving a 93 per cent pneumococcal vaccine uptake, equally-as-vulnerable seniors are not.

In fact, only one per cent of Australians aged 18-74  understand age-appropriate vaccination is vital to maintaining good health, while just 20 per cent of those at most risk of infection have been vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia.

The figures were released to mark the just-passed Pneumonia Awareness Week (May 9-15).

Lung Foundation Australia’s ‘Breathe well, age well’ research reveals two-in-three (66 per cent) Australian adults consider themselves to be younger and fitter than their parents were at their age, and many therefore underestimate the potential for vaccination to add years to life.

A staggering 87 per cent of seniors (aged 65 – 74) cite they are younger and fitter than their parent’s generation were at their age, and 65 per cent do not consider their age to be a health-risk factor.

Furthermore, the majority of people in this age group (57 per cent) do not believe that contracting the often fatal lung infection, pneumococcal pneumonia, would have a major impact on their lives.

Respiratory physician and Lung Foundation Australia National Council member, associate professor Lucy Morgan said while the so-called “super seniors” positive attitude towards their health is admirable, 52 per cent of this age group surveyed are at increased risk of contracting pneumococcal pneumonia through an existing medical condition or lifestyle factors (current or past smoking)

“We are seeing the rise of a generation of healthy, fit and fabulous Australians in their mid-60s who love to travel and to care for their grandchildren. They take good care of themselves, and are dedicated to ‘adding years to life’, by exercising and eating well, but don’t realise that developing pneumococcal pneumonia could change all of that,” Professor Morgan said.

“The stark reality is, all adults aged 65 and over are at increased risk of contracting pneumococcal pneumonia due to their age alone, and pneumococcal vaccination can ‘add life to years.'”

For more information on this topic, check out the video on Lungs4Life.