The Pneumococcal vaccine is free of charge as part of the National Immunisation Programme for the over 65s and identified at risk groups including people with diabetes, heart disease or respiratory conditions and patients receiving chemotherapy
New research released today has revealed that 4 out of 5 (79%) people in Ireland claim to know very little about Pneumococcal Disease, a disease which more than 500,000 people aged 65 and older, are at risk of contracting in Ireland. The survey also revealed only 4% said they knew a lot about Pneumococcal disease while 17% claimed they knew a little.
The research, carried out by Behaviour & Attitudes on behalf of MSD, examined awareness and perceptions of Pneumococcal Disease. Invasive Pneumococcal disease, or Pneumo as it is also known, is a major cause of illness and death in Ireland, particularly among the very young, those over the age of 65 and those with a weakened immune system. A pneumococcal infection can cause many types of illness that range from mild to very severe.
The Pneumococcal vaccine is free of charge as part of the National Immunisation Programme for the over 65s and identified at risk groups including people with diabetes, heart disease or respiratory conditions and patients receiving chemotherapy. Of those who develop an invasive Pneumococcal infection, one in four will get pneumonia, one in four will get meningitis and one in 10 will die. Pneumococcal infection is also a major cause of pneumonia in communities throughout Ireland.
Ahead of the traditional winter vaccination season, the survey revealed a lack of awareness around the National Pneumococcal (PPV23) Immunisation Programme. The survey also found that
- 79% of people surveyed know very little about Pneumococcal disease1
- More than 500,000 people aged 65 and older are at risk of contracting Pneumococcal disease in Ireland2
- 60% say they are not aware of free national immunisation programme for Pneumo but would be happy to receive the vaccine1
- Approximately 60,0003 people turn 65 in Ireland in 2020 and will be eligible to get the pneumococcal vaccine for free as part of the national immunisation programme to protect them from pneumococcal disease.
The survey explored respondents’ knowledge and attitudes to the National Immunisation programme and found only 11% said that they were aware of the programme and had received the vaccine1. A further 12% were aware of the programme but had not received the vaccine1. Almost two-thirds of respondents (60%) were completely unaware of the National Immunisation programme but said they would be happy to receive the vaccine1.
Of those who haven’t received the Pneumococcal vaccine, 56% said it was because they did not know anything about it and 39% said they have never been advised to get the vaccine. This highlights the important role of the healthcare professional in recommending vaccination1.
Pneumococcal infection is responsible for 50% of community acquired pneumonia and bacteraemia where the overall mortality rate can be as high as 25%. It can also cause a wide variety of other infections including sinusitis, osteomyelitis, bronchitis, and otitis media5.
Dr Maitiu O Tuathail: “This year more than ever, it is so important to be up to date with vaccination. Doctors play an important role in a person’s decision to vaccinate. Pneumococcal disease can be prevented by vaccination. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist to find out more about Pneumococcal disease and how you can prevent it.”
Kieran O’Leary, CEO, Diabetes Ireland said; “We are all aware of meningitis, pneumonia and even septicaemia, but often we are not aware of one of the causes of these serious illnesses. I would urge those with diabetes to Know Pneumo, know the impact it can have on your health and wellbeing and talk to your GP or Diabetes team.”
As part of the National Immunisation Programme, the Pneumococcal vaccine is recommended to those over the age of 65 and those at increased risk due to existing conditions such as diabetes, asthma, chronic heart disease, a weakened immune system and patients receiving chemotherapy.
To find out more about the campaign, check out www.pneumo.ie or follow #KnowPneumo online.