World Immunisation Day 2019: As effect of many childhood vaccines wears off, let’s have look at vaccines one should get as an adult

We all know about childhood vaccines, one of the best ways to prevent infectious diseases in the community. But what many of us don’t realise is that effect of many of these vaccines wears off eventually

Myupchar November 08, 2019 18:14:00 IST
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World Immunisation Day 2019: As effect of many childhood vaccines wears off, let’s have look at vaccines one should get as an adult
  • The effect of many childhood vaccines wears off eventually

  • One should get booster shots and adult vaccines when they are available

  • Indian government has an elaborate immunisation schedule for adults that includes routine vaccinations for adults

We all know about childhood vaccines, one of the best ways to prevent infectious diseases in the community. But what many of us do not realise is that effect of many of these vaccines wears off eventually.

World Immunisation Day 2019 As effect of many childhood vaccines wears off lets have look at vaccines one should get as an adult

Representational image. Getty Images

The National Center for Disease Control, India, says that the immunity you develop through vaccines does not last for as long as the one you get naturally after you get a disease. So while you think you are safe from an infection, your immune system may have already forgotten how to fight it.

Of course, this is not to say that you should not get these vaccines. Quite the opposite, you should get booster shots and adult vaccines when they are available.

The Indian government has an elaborate immunisation schedule for adults that includes routine vaccinations for adults, more so, if you fall in the high-risk category for a disease. Fortunately, most of these vaccines can be taken within a large time frame of years. So if you missed any of these so far, it may not be too late.

Ahead of World Immunisation Day on 10 November, let us look at all the vaccines you should consider getting as a grown-up.

Immunisation for healthy adults

Unless your doctor specifically advises against a particular vaccine, the Association of Physicians in India recommends the following vaccines for all adults above the age of 18:

1. Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus (DPT): If you got the DPT vaccine (and boosters) as a child, you will need a booster dose of Td (tetanus-diphtheria) once every 10 years until the age of 65. If, however, you did not get the DPT vaccine in childhood, you will first need to get three doses of the Td vaccine, two of these are given four weeks apart and the third one after 6 to 12 months of the second dose. Your doctor may recommend a Tdap vaccine (a booster shot) in place of one of these doses.

2. Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR): You will not need an MMR vaccine if you got the injection in childhood. But if you did not, you should consider one to two doses before the age of 55. MMR is not given to pregnant women or immunocompromised people.

3. Varicella: Varicella causes chickenpox. If you had the disease as a child, or if you were vaccinated against it in childhood, you do not need this vaccine as an adult. However, if you did not get the Varicella vaccine as a child, you will need two doses of the vaccine, which you can take any time and at any age.

4. Influenza: Flu shots are given every year, they are especially important for the elderly, as they have a weaker immune system. For optimum effect, the shot should be taken about two weeks before the onset of seasonal influenza, this is how long our body takes to build antibodies against this disease.

5. Pneumococcal: Pneumococcus is a bacteria that causes diseases like pneumonia and meningitis. Even if you were vaccinated against this bacteria as a child, you would need to get at least one more dose after the age of 65, it can be taken earlier if you are at risk of the disease. At-risk groups include alcoholics, frequent smokers and those with chronic diseases like diabetes, asthma and liver or kidney diseases.

6. HPV: The HPV vaccine protects you against the human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes genital warts and cervical cancer. This vaccine is especially recommended for women between the ages of nine and 26 years.

Special situation vaccines

This list comprises the vaccines you will need if you fall within the high-risk category for a disease or if you are at risk of exposure to the causative agent. The vaccines are for:

1. Frequent travellers: You are at high risk for HepA if you travel in endemic areas or constantly come in contact with infected people. However, you would only need the hepatitis A vaccine as an adult if you did not get it in childhood. You may also be asked to get a typhoid, cholera or polio vaccine if you are travelling to endemic areas.

2. Those who have multiple sex partners: Those with multiple sexual partners and those with liver or kidney disease are at high risk of hepatitis B. Your doctor may ask you to get a single booster dose, two if you were not previously immunised.

3. Everyone: Meningococcus is a bacteria that cause meningitis. There are two types of meningococcal vaccine, the Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4) and the meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (MPSV4).

MCV4 is only recommended for people between the ages of two and 55. For immunised adults, one dose is recommended, to be taken at any time. If you have been revaccinated with MCV4 before the age of 55, you can take it again after the age of 56. For those above the age of 56 who have not been given the MCV4 vaccine before, the meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (MPSV4) is recommended.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more information, please read our article on Measles (Rubeola).

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