Immunization is the process to protect the individuals against certain diseases by boosting individual’s own immunity (ability to fight against diseases and infections) through vaccines. Vaccines play an outstanding role in not only reducing the incidence of certain deadly diseases but have a major role in complete eradication of certain diseases.
Immunization is important not only in infants and children, but is significant in adults and elderly too as the effect of certain vaccines wears off after some time and we need to get vaccinated for such disease time and again (e.g., influenza vaccine for flu). Secondly, the disease causing microbes can be passed to non-immunised persons easily and rapidly. Thirdly, we are also exposed to certain diseases because of our age, health conditions, lifestyle, job and travel.
Recommended immunization for adults (age 19yrs or older) and senior people (65 yrs or above):
- Influenza vaccine for flu: It is recommended for all individuals (adults and elderly) and is advised to give one dose of vaccine every year, when the chances of flu is most common to happen, i.e., in winters in India.
- TDaP (Tetanus, diphtheria and adult pertussis): People who have not received vaccine for TDP should receive one dose of TDaP vaccine followed by one dose in every ten years. It is specially recommended for all healthcare professionals and should be given during pregnancy (between 27 -36 weeks of pregnancy).
- MMR (Measles, mumps and rubella): It is highly recommended for adults who have missed vaccine for MMR, for healthcare professionals and for international travellers as well. Mostly 2 doses are given at in interval of 4 weeks.
- Varicella vaccine (for chickenpox): It is recommended for people who did not have chickenpox, who have not received vaccine against chickenpox and people who don’t have serological evidence of immunity against chickenpox. Usually 2 doses are given, second after an interval of 4-8 weeks after administration of first.
- Hepatitis A: People who are not vaccinated against hepatitis A and whose serological reports doesn’t show immunity against hepatitis are advised to be vaccinated for it. Hepatitis vaccines are highly recommended for people having chronic liver disease, health care professionals and injecting/non-injecting drug users. 2 doses are given, spaced 6-18 months apart.
- Hepatitis B: HepatitisB infection can cause liver cirrhosis (scarring), liver cancer and liver failure. It can be fatal. Usually 3 doses are recommended for non vaccinated people at 0, 1 and 4 months gap.
- Zoster: One single dose is advised for senior people (60yrs or older) who are unvaccinated against chickenpox regardless of previous history of disease.
- HiB (haemophilus influenza type b): It is advisable in high-risk patients having asplenia (absence of spleen), who are advised removal of spleen or undergoing stem cell transplant. Recommended patients usually get one dose.
- HPV (human papilloma virus): HPV vaccine provides protection against cervical cancers, anal cancers and genital warts caused by papilloma viruses. Three doses are recommended at 0, 1-2 and 6 months interval. It is recommended for:
- Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated females up to 26 yrs.
- Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated males up to 22 yrs.
- Immunocompromised people due to infection (including HIV).
- Pneumococcal vaccine: Pneumococcal vaccine provides protection against pneumonia, meningitis and bacteraemia (infection in the blood stream) it is recommended for all individuals age 65 yrs or above especially for immunocompromised people.
- Meningococcal vaccine: It provides protection against meningitis. It is especially recommended for people who are immunocompromised, for travellers who travel to places where meningitis is endemic. Initially two doses are given followed by booster dose after 5 yrs.
For elderly people, senior home health care facilities are also available where vaccines can be administered at home providing utmost comfort and care to elderly.
Immunization plays a vital role in elderly people as it to helps prevent many diseases, reduces disability, increases longevity, help prevent frequent hospitalisation and thus contributes in maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle and plays a very important role in elder’s health.
Thus it can be concluded that immunization is a very effective tool in public health intervention which is required for not only children but for adults and elderly as well.