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Zoster vaccination has been funded under the National Immunisation Program for older adults aged 70, with a catch-up program for those aged 71–79 years, since 2016. An Australian survey of general practitioners (GPs) has found some gaps in knowledge of zoster vaccination recommendations and guidelines.
The survey was conducted by the National Centre of Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) in 2017, one year after the introduction of the national zoster vaccination program, and the results have been published in Communicable Diseases Intelligence. The survey found while most GPs knew about the eligibility criteria for funded vaccinations, there was lack of knowledge of the other age groups for which zoster vaccine is recommended but not funded. A small percentage of GPs were also unaware that this vaccine should not be given to immunocompromised people, and that it can be given at the same time as influenza or pneumococcal vaccine. About half of the GPs surveyed rarely or never reported zoster vaccination data to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR).
The findings of this survey suggest the need for a repeat survey to determine if these issues persist, especially regarding the contraindication to zoster vaccination for immunocompromised people. All immunisation providers are encouraged to give zoster vaccine as per the current Australian guidelines, ensuring compliance with relevant contraindications, and report to AIR.
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