Vaccination is the safest and most effective way of disease prevention. It is the prime mode of making an individual immune and is the success story of the 21st century. Everyone is aware of childhood immunization, however, very few know about the need for immunization as an adult. In fact, adult vaccination coverage in our country is the most ignored part of health care services.
Why immunize an adult?
- Immunity from some of the childhood vaccinations can wear off with time and thus might fail to protect us in adulthood. So, revaccination in the form of booster doses is required.
- Better and safer vaccines keep on adding to the armamentarium, which may not have been available when we were children.
- Vaccines and their recommendations keep changing with time according to the changing pattern of the different infections. So, we need to keep ourselves updated.
- Just because we are adults doesn’t mean we aren’t at risk for certain diseases. Depending on the age and other factors, adults may be more at risk than children.
Which vaccines do you need?
Vaccines are recommended for adults on the basis of age, prior vaccinations, co-existing health problems, lifestyle, occupation, and travel plans. Following is the list of few important vaccines which are recommended for all healthy, non-pregnant adults at different ages groups:
- Influenza (seasonal flu) vaccine – for all adults over the age of 50 yrs annually.
- Pneumococcal vaccine – for all adults age 65 years or older, as well as adults age 19 to 64 years who smoke or have diabetes or chronic heart, lung, liver, or kidney disorders.
- Chickenpox vaccine – for all adults who have not had chickenpox or the vaccine previously.
- Herpes zoster (shingles) vaccine – for adults age 60 years and older (whether or not they report a prior episode of shingles).
- Tetanus vaccine – for all adults every 10 years, with at least one shot against whooping cough (Tdap) if not received during adolescence.
- HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine – for women age 26 or younger and men age 21 and younger (HPV virus can cause cervical, anal, oral, and throat cancers).
- MMR – If you have not had an MMR vaccine and have never had measles, mumps or rubella, you may need the vaccine.
- The best way to decide exactly what you need and how to get fully immunized is to talk with your healthcare provider.
Protect yourself and your loved ones
Some people in our family or community e.g. Infants, elderly, people with weakened immune systems (undergoing cancer treatment) are especially vulnerable to infections, at the same time vaccines are contraindicated for them due to their age or health condition. Thus they rely on our immunity to help prevent the spread of disease to them.
Make sure you are vaccinated for the best protection!
Adult vaccination must become part of routine immunization because these vaccines alone can save millions of lives and reduce the economic burden on the world’s healthcare systems. Despite being busy and serving so many responsibilities as an adult, we should try our best to fulfill the large gap between national adult immunization goals and the actual rates.