By Dr Pavithra, Consultant- Internal Medicine, Columbia Asia Hospital Hebbal (A unit of Manipal Hospitals
Vaccines are known as one of the greatest inventions of mankind. For more than 200 years vaccines have protected humanity against life-threatening diseases. In the history of medicine, vaccines are considered the single most life-saving innovation. These vaccinations have eradicated critical problems like smallpox, measles and prevented lifelong disabilities and have also reduced child mortality rates. Even during the pandemic, vaccines have increased the hope of people towards building a healthy nation.
The need for vaccination among adults as well as children
Immunization or vaccination are very important for the babies to safeguard them from imminent danger. With an increasing risk of various health problems, communicable diseases vaccination for infants becomes crucial as a precautionary measure. As per WHO, over 22 million children do not receive proper and complete vaccination; the number is only increasing every year. Approximately 3 million deaths worldwide can be prevented if children receive proper and timely vaccinations against preventable diseases such as tetanus, hepatitis, polio, pneumonia, diarrhea, etc.
It is important to understand that vaccines are not just for infants and young children. While we keep a close watch on the vaccination chart of our babies and kids to ensure they should not fall sick, we usually tend to ignore immunization in adults. Many may be startled to hear that even adults need immunization. As people age, they carry a bigger burden of illness and possible fatality from vaccine preventable infectious diseases. As we age our immune system gets deteriorated and as a result the body’s strength to fight against infections reduces. Also, conditions like diabetes, lung problem, kidney disease supresses the immune system further making people susceptible to infections.
The Covid pandemic has taught all of us the importance of having a good immune system. However, many have missed or postponed children’s or adult’s routine vaccines by putting them at risk of serious diseases. It is important to follow the vaccination chart and get the jab to protect ourselves. Parents should consult the doctors and administer vaccines without any hesitancy for the wellbeing of the kids. Similarly, avoiding vaccination for adults mainly Covid vaccination may also put people at risk by increasing the vulnerability to get infected. Many healthcare workers, frontline worriers and other people aged above 45 have already taken vaccination to protect themselves from the infection. As soon as the government makes the vaccine accessible to the people in the respective age bracket it is suggested to take the jab without delaying it.
Important vaccination for kids:
BCG, OPV, Hepatitis B, Pentavalent, Rotavirus Vaccine, PCV, IPV, Measles/MR, JE, DPT, and TT
Important vaccinations for adults:
Influenza, pneumococcal disease, hepatitis A & B, typhoid, human papillomavirus and diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis
Influenza vaccine is mostly ignored by adults with a presumption that they are immune to it. In a tropical country like India, influenza is not seasonal. Severe influenza cases among adults are reported every year increasing the mortality rate among them. Therefore, taking vaccination for influenza after certain age is important. Administering vaccination for the pregnant women is also a crucial step to safeguard the health of both mother and baby. For adults, depending on the factors like age, lifestyle, high-risk medical conditions and the past vaccination plan, immunizations are recommended.
What we do not consider is that vaccines are perhaps the best chance of eradicating the infectious disease. Immunisation is the best way to protect ourselves, our children and the future from infectious diseases.