Monday, October 19th, 2009

Stay Protected with Vaccines



In India we mistakenly believe that vaccines are for babies and toddlers only. The truth is that adults need a diphtheria-tetanus booster dose every 10 years after you turn 18.

Essential vaccines in adults

Hepatitis B Vaccine: Government of India has included vaccine against Hepatitis B in the National Immunisation Program. Three doses of Hepatitis B vaccine (0, 1, 6 months) are recommended to adults who are at risk of having Hepatitis B due to their profession, behaviour and medical conditions. Hepatitis B infection is associated with Cirrhosis of liver and liver cancer. Vaccination can prevent Hepatitis B infection.

Chicken Pox Vaccine: In the month of spring instances of chicken pox soar. All those adults who haven’t had the chicken pox infection as a child are vulnerable to chicken pox. The infection is severe in adults. One or two doses of the vaccine can provide life- long immunity. Worth getting the jab to avoid the infection.

Zoster Vaccine: One dose of Zoster vaccine is recommended to all adults who have previous history of chicken pox infection in childhood.

Pneumococcal Vaccine (Pneumonia vaccine): Adults especially above 50, diabetic and smokers are at increased risk of catching pneumonia when the temperature dips during winter. People suffering from chronic lung, kidney or respiratory diseases are at high risk of acquiring pneumococcal infections. One to two doses of the pneumococcal polyvalent vaccine should be given to people at risk.

Typhoid Vaccine: Typhoid continues to be an endemic problem in India and is responsible for a lot of work hour loss in the adult population. Very few people know that this can be prevented by taking one vaccine every three years.

Influenza Vaccine: People with lung, heart and kidney disease, those suffering from severe anaemia and elderly people should take the single dose of influenza vaccine every year.

Meningococal Vaccine: Meningitis is a life threatening and serious infection in adults and this can be prevented by one or more doses of polyvalent conjugate vaccine in adult population at risk. People travelling to Meningitis endemic areas, living in groups like military, going for HAJ or students in Hostel etc can get the vaccination done. People who had to get their spleen removed should also go for the vaccination.

HPV Vaccine: Human papilloma virus causes cervical cancer in women. Three doses (0, 2, 6 months) should be given to women up to 26 years of age.

MMR Vaccine: Every reproductive age group girl should be screened for Rubella infection if she is not immune i.e she had not had Rubella vaccination/ infection in past and she should be given MMR vaccination single dose before conception. This is a live virus vaccine and is contraindicated during pregnancy or in immune compromised state.

Whooping Cough, Diphtheria And Tetanus (DPT): Doctors once hoped to control whooping cough, or pertussis, by vaccinating children only. But recently cases have soared among teens and adults who were vaccinated as children, which mean that as we age we might lose our protection. For adults, the illness is rarely dangerous, though the cough can cause vomiting and disrupt sleep. Some adults cough hard enough to crack ribs, break blood vessels or pass out. The most serious risk, though, is that sick adults will infect babies, who are not yet fully vaccinated. This disease is a baby killer. A single dose of DPT vaccine and a booster every ten years is recommended. This also provides protection against Tetanus.

In case of a canine bite you need to take rabies vaccine. People who handle animals and vets should take the vaccine too. Vaccine against malaria and HIV are in pipeline and will become a reality in near future.

Like eating well and exercising, vaccines form the cornerstone of preventive medicine.

Dr.Sushila Kataria (1)By Dr. Sushila Kataria, internal consultant at Medanta-the-Medicity

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