Explainer: Importance of adult vaccinations for better health, longevity

Taking adult vaccinations as per age and medical conditions can help reduce infections, severity, hospitalisation, morbidity and mortality.
Explainer: Importance of adult vaccinations for better health, longevity

Vaccinations protect individuals from developing serious diseases and stop the spread of infectious diseases. While child vaccinations are carried out normally, the adult vaccination is lagging, raising concerns.

Even though the National Centre for Disease Control under the Department of General Health Services has published the adult vaccination schedule, the lack of awareness remains a major concern.

Why are adult vaccinations important?

With increasing age, immunity among adults and senior citizens reduces, increasing the possibility of contracting infections. Vaccinations can help in reducing the severity of infections, hospital admission and expense, morbidity and mortality.

Adults with immunity deficiency and ailments related to heart, kidney and lungs are advised to take vaccines.

Unlike child vaccinations are universal, adult vaccinations are selective. Different vaccines target different age groups. Hence the spread of information and awareness is not proper. The public health system doesn't reach out to every section of adults, making the process even tougher.

Details about adult vaccinations

Doctors can recommend vaccinations as per age and medical conditions. With that people can take from hospitals. A general schedule is available which is not the same as that of the children's vaccination.

The prices of vaccinations range from Rs 2,200 to Rs 4,000, depending on the type of vaccine.

Dr Shiva Raju, senior consultant physician at KIMS Hospitals, Secunderabad said, “The adult vaccination schedule is available as per the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations, as per age group and medical condition. Taking appropriate vaccines is highly beneficial.”

However, despite the availability of schedules, the lack of awareness remains a major hindrance.

Healthcare professionals must raise awareness

A major setback in ensuring adult vaccination, as per medical bodies, is the hesitation from the medical professionals in convincing the target group to take vaccines.

“The doctors and training staff must inform their adult patients, particularly those with comorbidities, to take vaccines. This is a cost-effective way to prevent disease and infections”, Dr Shiva Raju said.

Common vaccines recommended for adults

Vaccines for flu, Hepatitis B, pneumococcal vaccine, tetanus, diphtheria, shingles and pertussis are commonly suggested vaccines for adults.

“In the absence of hepatitis-B vaccine, people can develop liver damage, fibrosis and even cancer in the long run. We can protect ourselves from diseases that can be controlled using vaccines. This can help reduce severity, hospital admission, morbidity and mortality,” Dr Shiva Raju said.

Pneumococcal vaccine for high-risk individuals (with chronic illness) has been found crucial in ensuring the well-being of the individual. One dose of PCV13 followed by one dose of PPSV23 at an interval of one year is strongly recommended. Doctors may recommend one booster dose after a gap of 5 years.

Senior citizens highly prone to infections

Vaccinations are important for senior citizens of both genders. Persons above the age of 60 years are highly prone to several infections, with reduced immunity and comorbidities.

Dr Shiva Raju said, “This age group can suffer from COPD, asthma and diabetes and hence must ensure annual flu shot and pneumococcal vaccine. Taking vaccines can reduce the severity and hospitalisation, which increases the cost of treatment.”

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