Important Vaccines for Adults

Vaccination, also known as immunization is a method of immunizing the body against one or many diseases. The immune systems identify and fight against pathogens like viruses and bacteria and, keep the body healthy. The vaccine stimulates the immune systems and protects it from the disease and, ultimately leads to the eradication of the disease. 

A lot of vaccines have been developed over the years to fight against diseases like Hepatitis-B, Polio, Chickenpox, Diphtheria, Typhoid, and many more. Vaccination helps stop the disease’s spread, along with reducing healthcare costs, and the number of deaths.

The central government has passed a law that children need to be vaccinated mandatorily once a year as they are more prone to infection. This is why going for any kind of vaccination for an adult depends on the immunization received during childhood years. Unlike the Pediatric Immunisation Guidelines are given for vaccination of children, vaccination for adults differ from region to region. The major guidelines are given by The Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices guidelines from The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, WHO, and the Association of Physicians of India.

Based on the areas there are two lists made, depending on the level of risk of disease in the region:

Vaccines recommended for all healthy adultsVaccines recommended for high-risk individuals
DPTHepatitis A & B
Influenza (>50 years)Varicella
Pneumococcal (>65 years)HiB
Human Papillomavirus (9-26 years)Typhoid
Zoster (>60 years)Rabies

Four Important Vaccinations for adults

There are a few vaccines that are recommended to every adult:

Flu Shots

A flu shot is mainly taken to reduce the risk of influenza in people. Influenza is a viral infection that affects the respiratory system, i.e. the nose, throat, and lungs. It’s not a very deadly disease and for most people, it cures on its own. Flu symptoms include fever, sore throat, cough, body ache, and runny or stuffy nose

In 2018, in some of the southern states of India contributed to 47.7% morbidity and 20.2% mortality due to Influenza spread in the states of Karnataka and Telangana. 

The flu shot is especially important for people already suffering from any respiratory chronic disease like asthma, diabetics, or heart diseases as their immune system is already weak. In India, the vaccine is available as a killed virus vaccine that is to be administered intramuscularly or as nasal spray vaccines. Every year a new batch of the vaccine is manufactured as the influenza virus constantly mutates.

The spread of the virus is at its peak from October till the end of May, therefore the best time to get the flu shot is October-November.

Pneumococcal Vaccine

Pneumonia is very common in children but is fatal for older adults. Pneumonia is caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungus in one or both lungs. The infection inflames the air sacs, called alveoli, and fill them with fluid or pus, making it hard to breathe. The symptoms include cough with phlegm or pus, fever, chills, and difficulty in breathing.

India had the second-highest number of deaths of children below the age of five due to pneumonia, i.e. 1,27,000 in 2019. This disease is now responsible for 15% of the death of children, under the age of five, around the world.

There are two types of pneumococcal vaccines, Polysaccharide vaccine (PCV 23) which is less effective than the Conjugated vaccine (PCV 13). Children should compulsorily have a shot, but in adults, it is mainly given to active smokers or have chronic diseases. Adults are given both shots with a gap of a year.

Tetanus Booster

The vaccine guards the body against bacteria that release toxins that affect the brain and the nervous system that painfully contracts the muscles throughout the body. The bacteria is called Clostridium tetani that enter the body through wounds or burns cause spasm and pain, especially in the neck and jaw region. The infection can be fatal if not treated on time. The vaccine is administered to anyone with a severe wound or burn.

Since 2005, there has been a drop in the cases related to tetanus. The number had dropped to just 500 in 2013-14. But in a recent news article by The Hindu, in 2018, the cases have surprisingly been on the rise. Tetanus can’t be fully eradicated because the clostridium bacteria are widespread in the environment.

Adults need regular boosters added with the diphtheria vaccine as Td. For every pregnant woman, we need to give tetanus, diphtheria vaccines as Tdap. Td boosters are given 10 years throughout adulthood.

Hepatitis Vaccine

Hepatitis is a viral infection that causes inflammation in the liver. But there are other causes of hepatitis as well that can occur as a secondary result of medications, drugs, toxins, and alcohol. Type A hepatitis is caused by transmission through consumption of food and water contaminated by the feces of other persons already infected and hepatitis B is caused by contact with infectious bodily fluids.

The vaccination prevents serious failure of the liver, cancer, and death. The vaccine is administered mainly to those already suffering from liver disease as they are more vulnerable to the disease.

Since the coronavirus pandemic, people are more conscious about their health and immunization is one of the most important aspects of it. people should be aware of the diseases they are at risk of and what are the preventive measures that can be taken to stay safe and healthy.

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