Vaccines lower the chances of getting certain diseases by working with the human body’s natural defenses. This helps in safely developing body immunity thereby lowering risks of getting the disease. It is a common misconception that vaccines are largely meant for newborn infants and children who are more susceptible to illnesses. On the contrary, every year, several thousands of adults get ill due to vaccine-preventable diseases and need hospitalization. This is more so amongst older adults because the body’s natural immunity weakens with ageing. Therefore, it is advisable for older adults to be on vaccinations for preventing health complications. Additionally, it is a social obligation to protect not merely ourselves but others around us too from avoidable ailments.
Need for Adult Immunization
The vaccines needed for adult immunization depend on several factors such as their age, lifestyle, prevalent high-risk medical conditions, travel plans and their past vaccinations. Adult vaccination is important for the following reasons-
- Some vaccinations may not offer life-long protection and periodic booster doses are required.
- Getting vaccinated helps protect kids especially babies who are too young. So pregnant women and people in contact with young babies must undergo vaccination.
- Certain vaccines (like zoster) are meant only for adults.
- Vaccinations may be needed when one is traveling to different countries where they may encounter sicknesses which are not present in their hometowns.
- Some vaccinations (like flu vaccine) must be taken annually.
- Adults may not have been vaccinated in childhood.
- New vaccinations are being developed for latest diseases and epidemic outbreaks.
- Re-vaccination is needed if vaccination records (mandatory for certain procedures) are missing.
- Adults working in healthcare profession must be immunized because they are in close contact with patients.
- Elders suffering from chronic ailments or having smoking habits, have compromised immune mechanisms.
- Adults may be physical relationships with multiple partners who are in turn carriers of various infections.
- Lack of awareness
- Financial constraints
- Fear and inhibitions about contraindications and side effects of vaccinations
- Hurdles in reaching healthcare facilities for vaccinations including patient’s health conditions, immobility and remote accessibility
Steps for Encouraging Uptake of Adult Vaccinations
- Government involvement in public programs and mass advertising for creating awareness and education about Adult Vaccinations
- Conducting free adult vaccination camps and providing health incentives for increasing public participation
- Strong encouragement by healthcare providers on immunization against preventable illnesses
- Sending periodical releases, updates and training to clinicians about Adult Immunization Practices
- Conducting door-to-door adult immunization programs for mass reachability
- Ensuring circulation of specific vaccination recommendations for pregnant ladies, patients with immunocompromising conditions and chronic ailments
- Releasing annual statistics for the public on arising a number of cases and deaths due to preventable diseases like measles, mumps, invasive pneumococcal disease and meningitis to ingrain criticality of immunization
- Encouraging patients to thoroughly read Vaccine Information Statement(VIS) that reveals indications and precautions for each vaccine
- Strong advocacy by family physicians on immunization as a life-saving measure
Vaccinations in Senior Care
Home-based care may be needed for some patients for monitoring their health, adjusting medications, supporting daily activities and getting therapies. Medical care for elders at home is crucial, especially when such patients are in post-operative periods, have chronic ailments or functional impairments. Under such circumstances their immunity is severely low and they are at risk of contracting several preventable diseases. By using Senior Home Healthcare Services, such adults get vaccinated safely by professionally trained clinicians for better immunization. These services also maintain immunization records and send vaccination schedules and reminders to ensure it is not missed.
Adult Vaccination sets a classical example that prevention is better than cure and significantly improves public healthcare standards.