13 August 2015
The world is all too aware of the crippling recession that Europe is still battling with, most notably with Greece and its recent dilemma of whether it would exit the Euro or not. Although statistics show that the UK economy is gradually improving and that Germany is faring considerably well in economic terms, many governments are still left with the difficult decision of how to allocate resources. Indeed, this challenge is becoming increasingly more difficult as the world witnesses a rise in ageing populations; with the welfare and health sectors needing to be increasingly relied upon by the elderly. So, what is the solution?
Inevitably there is not one, simple, easy solution. However, there is a solid option for governments to protect their ageing populations, whilst saving money on their welfare and health budgets. What exactly is this option you ask? The answer: vaccination.
Vaccination of the elderly may not sound like an obvious way for governments to save money on their health and welfare budgets…but this may be due to a common misunderstanding. Most people generally believe that we should only focus our vaccination efforts on children, but this is not true!
Here at CoMO we are primarily concerned with fighting meningitis and septicaemia and these diseases can affect ALL age ranges. Therefore, it is vital that everyone, firstly, is aware of the importance of vaccination and secondly, that everyone acknowledges their right to vaccination.
The belief that meningitis and septicaemia only affect children is completely inaccurate. Many teenagers and young adults can contract meningitis too. Interestingly, teenagers (especially those at university) can mistake the symptoms of meningitis for a hangover, and new university friends may not recognise a person’s change in behaviour if they are unwell. Also, living away from home for the first time can be a stressful experience, and the hormones produced when an individual is stressed can create the optimum environment for the meningitis bacteria to thrive. Sadly, many often miss the signs of meningitis and time is of the essence with this disease.
Meningitis can be deadly and its survivors can be left with life-changing after-effects, for example, amputation or deafness; therefore, spotting the symptoms early is imperative. One step better than this is prevention through vaccination and this is what we are striving for here at CoMO.
Again, many people do not realise that anyone can contract meningitis (both bacterial and viral) from a range of other diseases, one example being pneumonia. Consequently, many of these diseases affect the elderly, who are more at risk than healthy, younger adults of contracting either the bacterial or viral form of meningitis. This then places an added pressure onto the health system and inevitably, requires more money and a huge and unnecessary amount of stress and heartache for families and friends. So, how do we resolve this? We vaccinate!
A recent study conducted by ‘Ageing Research’ has shown that there is a proven, cost-effective benefit to vaccinating the elderly against vaccine-preventable diseases, such as meningitis, pneumonia and shingles, to name a few.
You can access the report and its conclusions via the Alliance on Ageing Research’s website.
Furthermore, the European Commission has stated that: ‘Vaccination [is] making people immune to diseases caused by viruses or bacteria [and] is unquestionably one of the most cost-effective public health measures available’.
If vaccinating the elderly is scientifically proven to save money (and devastating heartache), then surely it is a no-brainer? We must begin to start vaccinating ALL age ranges, and not just children.
This month is ‘National Immunisation Awareness Month’ (NIAM). Will you join us and support our campaign of Life-Course Immunisation (LCI)? We hope so, as together we can save money and more importantly, lives!
For more information on the Life-Course Initiative please contact:
Samantha Rosoman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (CoMO)
We will be posting regular updates about the progress of the LCI, so please do stay connected!
Photo courtesy: Garry Knight
Natalie is a recent graduate from the University of Birmingham, where she studied International Relations with French. She has particular expertise in the international political economy and its relation with international healthcare organisations. She is an intern at CoMO, where she is currently working on the Life-Course Immunisation Initiative.