The Growing Issue of Aging Population in Spain
The aging population in our country is on the rise, experiencing the largest increase in recent years. According to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), there were already 133 people over the age of 64 for every 100 people under the age of 16 in Spain in 2022. This demographic shift leads to a progressive deterioration of the immune system and an increase in diseases, which ultimately puts a strain on the National Health System. Moreover, vaccine-preventable diseases among adults continue to contribute significantly to morbidity, mortality, disability, and healthcare costs. These alarming statistics were discussed during a meeting of the Innovation Committee of the Institute for the Development and Integration of Health (IDIS Foundation), attended by professionals from GSK, including Sergio Ostale, Director of Market Access, Ana Hernando, Director of Government Affairs for Vaccines, and Dr. Elizabeth Abbot, attached to the General Medical Directorate of ASISA.
The Benefits of Vaccination Beyond Acute Diseases
The session highlighted that vaccination offers benefits beyond the prevention of acute diseases. There is ongoing research in the field of medicine on therapeutic vaccines, which utilize the body’s immune system stimulation to combat diseases rather than solely preventing them.
Investment in Adult Immunization
Investing in adult immunization is estimated to generate a return on investment (ROI) ranging from 40% to 300% in terms of healthcare and social costs. For instance, experts at the meeting discussed the impact of herpes zoster (HZ), commonly known as shingles, and postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) in adults. These conditions cause severe pain and disability, making them one of the most debilitating diseases. GSK has developed a vaccine to prevent herpes zoster and its consequences, including postherpetic neuralgia.
The Importance of a Comprehensive Vaccination Calendar
The meeting emphasized the need for a unified vaccination calendar that covers people of all ages to prevent viral infections and reduce their incidence. It also stressed the importance of promoting professional leadership in recommending adult vaccination and fostering public-private collaboration in vaccination campaigns. Additionally, equal access to vaccines in private centers at the regional level was highlighted as a crucial aspect.
The Role of Private Healthcare in Vaccination
Ángel de Benito, the General Secretary of the IDIS Foundation, stated that integrating private healthcare into the vaccination system can provide a more comprehensive overview of vaccination coverage in the country. It can also facilitate efficient coordination and follow-up, avoiding any duplication or gaps in vaccine administration.
About IDIS Foundation
The IDIS Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to recognizing the contribution of private healthcare to the overall healthcare system in Spain. Its mission is to promote and develop initiatives that aim to achieve optimal healthcare for all sectors of the population. The foundation’s Board of Trustees consists of 30 groups involved in private healthcare in Spain, including AEGON, Catalan Association of Health Entities (ACES), Analiza, Asisa, Axa, Caser, Seguros Catalana Occidente, Clínica Universidad de Navarra, Divina Seguros, DKV, Farmaindustria, FENIN, Fresenius Medical Care, GenesisCare, Recoletas Hospital Group, Catholic Hospitals of Madrid, HM Hospitals, Perpetuo Socorro Hospital, Hospiten, IMED Hospitals, IMQ, MAPFRE, San Juan de Dios Hospital Order, Quirónsalud, Ribera Salud, Sanitas, SegurCaixa Adeslas, Teladoc Health, Unilabs, and Vithas.
Of the main contributors to the burden of disease among older adults. Vaccination against HZ has been shown to significantly reduce the incidence and severity of these conditions, leading to improved quality of life for patients and reduced healthcare costs. The experts emphasized the importance of increasing awareness and access to adult vaccines, as well as integrating vaccination into routine healthcare practices. They also discussed the need for collaboration between healthcare professionals, policymakers, and vaccine manufacturers to address the growing issue of aging population and its impact on public health.
How effective is vaccination against HZ in reducing the burden of disease among older adults?
Vaccination against herpes zoster (HZ), also known as shingles, has been shown to be highly effective in reducing the burden of disease among older adults. The most commonly used vaccine for HZ is the shingles vaccine, also known as Zostavax or Shingrix.
Several studies have demonstrated that HZ vaccination significantly reduces the incidence of shingles among older adults. For example, a large clinical trial involving over 38,000 adults aged 60 and older found that the shingles vaccine reduced the incidence of HZ by 51% and the incidence of post-herpetic neuralgia (a painful condition that can occur after shingles) by 67%.
Additionally, HZ vaccination has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of shingles if breakthrough cases occur. It can also help prevent complications of shingles, such as hospitalization and chronic pain.
By reducing the incidence, severity, and complications of HZ, vaccination effectively reduces the burden of disease among older adults. It improves their quality of life, reduces healthcare costs, and prevents long-term complications.
It is important for older adults to discuss HZ vaccination with their healthcare providers to determine if they are eligible and to ensure they receive the appropriate vaccine. The shingles vaccine is recommended for adults aged 50 and older, with the newer Shingrix vaccine being preferred over the older Zostavax vaccine.