Unlocking vital defences

Dr Koppula says that vaccination is as critical for adults as it is for children, yet many adults are not adequately vaccinated.
Representative image
Representative image

KOCHI: From polio to the coronavirus, vaccines play a pivotal role in protecting human health against a range of perilous diseases. As researchers strive to comprehend viruses and innovate new vaccines, it’s imperative to emphasise the significance of immunisation. Hence, World Immunisation Week is observed annually from April 24 to 30. During this week, let’s explore the significance of both traditional and emerging vaccines that are essential for everyone.

According to Dr Sandeep Reddy Koppula, HOD, Internal Medicine at Arete Hospitals, immunisation involves administering a vaccine to develop immunity against a specific disease. “The objective of vaccines is to bolster the body’s defenses against illnesses and infections. For instance, vaccines against smallpox stimulate the production of antibodies, enabling the body to recognise and combat illnesses effectively.”

Dispelling the misconception that vaccination is solely for children, Dr Koppula emphasises its equal importance for adults: “Vaccination is as critical for adults as it is for children, yet many adults are not adequately vaccinated.”

The vaccination needs of adults vary based on factors such as age, lifestyle, underlying medical conditions, travel plans, and previous immunisations.

Enumerating several rationales for adult vaccination, Dr Koppula says, “Recent advancements have led to the development of new vaccines, like the Cervical Cancer Vaccine introduced in 2006. Certain professions, such as healthcare, necessitate complete vaccination schedules. Moreover, individuals with specific medical conditions or compromised immune systems, as well as frequent international travellers, may require tailored vaccinations.”

Some recommended vaccinations for adults:

COVID-19

The COVID-19 vaccine can prevent infection or severe illness from the coronavirus.

Influenza (Flu)

Annual flu vaccination is recommended for those aged 6 monthsand above. Adults above 50 should avoid the nasal spray vaccine due to potential complications.

Hepatitis B

The Hepatitis B vaccine is advised for all adults aged 19 to 59 and those aged 60 and above with risk factors for Hepatitis B. It’s particularly important for diabetics due to the risk of infection from contaminated needles.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

The HPV vaccine is recommended for girls and boys aged 11 or 12. Teens and young adults up to age 26 should receive three doses. Gardasil 9 is FDA-approved for males and females aged 9 to 45 to prevent HPV-related cancers.

Pneumococcal Vaccine

Adults aged 65 and above should receive pneumococcal vaccines, with younger adults at increased risk also potentially needing vaccination against pneumococcal diseases.

Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (Tdap)

A single dose of Tdap is typically given at ages 11 or 12, with a booster every 10 years. Pregnant individuals should also receive one dose during each pregnancy.

Following vaccines were recommended by Dr Santosh Rajeev P, Consultant & Lead, Neonatology, Fernandez Hospital:

Shingles Vaccine

Essential for aging immune systems, the shingles vaccine guards against the varicella-zoster virus, averting nerve pain and rashes.

Meningococcal Vaccine

Critical for children, particularly those with HIV or compromised immune systems, the vaccine protects against meningitis and septicaemia caused by meningococcal bacteria strains. It’s especially vital for individuals over 11 and families travelling to high-risk areas.

Consultation with healthcare professionals for timely vaccination is crucial for optimal adult protection.

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