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A global agenda for older adult immunization in the COVID-19 era: A roadmap for action.

Abstract

Given our global interconnectedness, the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the urgency of building a global system that can support both routine and pandemic/epidemic adult immunization. As such, a framework to recommend vaccines and build robust platforms to deliver them to protect the rapidly expanding demographic of older adults is needed. Adult immunization as a strategy has the broad potential to preserve and improve medical, social, and economic outcomes, including maintaining functional ability that benefits older adults, their families, communities, and countries. While we will soon have multiple vaccines against COVID-19, we must recognize that we already have a variety of vaccines against other pathogens that can keep adults healthier. They can prevent simultaneous co-infection with COVID-19, and may favorably impact- the outcome of a COVID-19 illness. Further, administering a vaccine against COVID-19 requires planning now to determine delivery strategies impacting how older adults will be immunized in a timely manner. A group of international experts with various backgrounds from health and aging disciplines met to discuss the evidence case for adult immunization and crucial knowledge gaps that must be filled in order to implement effective policies and programs for older adult immunization. This group, coming together as the International Council on Adult Immunization (ICAI), outlined a high-level roadmap to catalyze action, provide policy guidance, and envision a global adult immunization platform that can be adapted by countries to fit their local contexts. Further meetings centered around the value of adult immunization, particularly in the context of COVID-19. There was agreement that programs to deliver existing influenza, pneumococcal, herpes zoster vaccines, and future COVID-19 vaccines to over a billion older adults who are at substantially higher risk of death and disability due to vaccine-preventable diseases are more urgent than ever before. Here we present a proposed framework for delivering routine and pandemic vaccines. We call upon the global community and governments to prioritize action for integrating robust adult immunization programs into the public health agenda.

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