Vaccines are for kids comes the reply when you ask anyone about adult vaccines. However, what many people are unaware of is the fact that your need for getting vaccinated doesn’t age when you become an adult. In fact, as you become old, your immunity decreases which in turn makes you susceptible to various diseases. So in this article, we will be explaining in detail about the types of adult vaccines, why you need adult vaccines and when should you get it.
Why Adult Vaccination Is Necessary?
Just like in kids, vaccination in adults can help prevent the risk of various diseases such as tetanus, pneumonia, influenza, hepatitis, typhoid, etc. However, it depends on several factors such as your age, travel plans, lifestyle, and medical condition. Moreover, vaccination during childhood is also considered. This is because you might have been vaccinated as a child but certain vaccines need a booster dose over time to keep protecting you against certain diseases. Here are a few reasons why you should get adult vaccination:
-There are numerous bacteria and viruses which can increase your risk of morbidity and mortality and the risk of transferring such infections in people who are not protected by vaccines is high.
-Certain diseases such as shingles (which is mostly caused due to reactivation of the chicken pox virus) can occur during adulthood. Hence, to protect against it, getting vaccinated is a good idea.
-You can prevent an infection or a disease such as hepatitis by vaccines. This not only helps you to reduce your stay at a hospital once infected but also prevents you from suffering through the disease.
-A certain group of people such as diabetics, elderly, etc is at a high risk of getting infected. In such a case, getting vaccinated acts as a precautionary measure even if you are fit and healthy.
-People who work in a healthcare sector such as laboratories, hospitals, etc are at a high risk of contracting an infection when they come in bodily fluids and blood. So getting vaccinated for conditions such as measles, mumps or hepatitis is a good idea.
-Lastly, getting vaccinated can boost the functioning of your immune system and trigger the production of antibodies, which fight an infection. For example, getting a pneumococcal vaccine produces antibodies against the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae. So if you get in contact with the bacteria in the near future, the chances of acquiring the infection are low as antibodies are already present in the body against the bacteria. However one should always seek expert medical advice and prescription before getting the vaccination.
What Vaccinations Are Needed For Adults?
Some of the common vaccines for adults include:
Influenza vaccine: In order to protect against the flu virus, it is advised to administer one dose of inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) or recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV) annually as per your age under medical guidance. The vaccination is indicated in high-risk subjects, such as those suffering from lung disease including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. Also, pregnant women and those with low immunity such as those on steroids are also advised to take this vaccine.
Pneumococcal vaccine: It is advised for use in adults aged >65 years for the prevention of pneumonia. However, if you are younger than 65 years and have a certain high-risk condition such as asthma, heart, lung, or kidney disease, immunosuppression or you lack a functioning spleen or are a smoker, you may need the vaccine. There are two different types of pneumococcal vaccines such as polysaccharide vaccine and conjugated vaccine. Talk to your doctor to know which vaccine is better suited.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine: The HPV vaccination is recommended for girls and boys to protect against genital warts and cervical cancer. It is most effective when administered before the onset of sexual activity. You need this vaccine if you are a woman aged 26 years or younger or a man aged 21 years or younger. The vaccine is usually given in 3 doses over a 6-month period. Those (both men and women) with no previous dose of HPV vaccine should get administered a 3-dose series at 0, 1–2, and 6 months interval.
Tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough (pertussis) (Tdap, Td) vaccine: As the name suggests, this vaccine is indicated to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough in adults. If you have not received a dose of Tdap during your lifetime, you need to get a Tdap shot now. Moreover, every pregnant woman needs to get a dose during each pregnancy. For adults between 18 and 64 years who have completed their primary vaccination schedule, should get a Td booster dose every 10 years. Consult your healthcare provider if you haven’t received Tdap shots or if you have a deep or dirty wound.
Hepatitis vaccine: Hepatitis vaccine offers protection against the hepatitis virus which can cause liver disease. Adults at high risks should get administered a 3-dose series of single-antigen hepatitis B vaccine (HepB) or combined hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccine (HepA-HepB) at 0, 1, and 6 months. The risk groups include those with chronic liver disease, HIV infection, sex partners of those with hepatitis infection, men who have sex with men or if you travel or stay in hepatitis endemic areas.
Other common vaccines that are recommended for adults include typhoid, shingles, meningitis, hepatitis A, etc. Consult your doctor about what vaccination you should get to stay healthy. Adult vaccination is a must especially if you are taking steroids, suffer from autoimmune diseases or travel to areas where a particular disease is endemic.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)
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4. Guidelines for vaccination in normal adults in India. Indian J Nephrol. 2016;26(Suppl 1):S7–S14.