Experts say up to 3.8 million Australian adults are missing out on free vaccinations each year.

Those who miss out are putting themselves at risk of contracting life-threatening, yet preventable infections, according to a report published in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA).

The release of the report coincides with the launch of the University of New South Wales Vaccine and Infection Research Lab (UNSW VIRL) – a national research centre of excellence designed to tackle the serious issue of low adult vaccination rates, and reduce the gap between infant and adult vaccination.

Australia continues to have vast numbers of under-vaccinated adults.

Australians aged 65 and over, who constitute the majority of adults missing out on free, age-related vaccinations (influenza, pneumococcal pneumonia and shingles), have an equal right to protection against life-threatening illnesses.

“Vaccination rates are significantly higher among infants versus their grandparents, despite the availability of free vaccines for both groups. This demonstrates the lower value that society places on keeping older Australians healthy,” said UNSW VIRL Head, Professor Raina MacIntyre, Sydney.

 The report is accessible here.