Adult vaccinations: What you need to know
Did you know that certain adult vaccinations are as important as childhood vaccinations? Keep reading to find out more...
When talking about vaccinations the focus is almost always on babies and children, while most adults rarely think of getting any vaccination.
However, a report by Ms Ng Wan Chin in The Straits Times highlights the importance of adult vaccinations and points out that many are not aware of how important certain vaccinations are in helping to boost the immune systems of vulnerable adult populations.
The good news is that more vaccines for adults have now been made available and health professionals are hoping this will change common perceptions about adult vaccinations among the public.
Adult vaccinations include those for shingles and influenza, with public hospitals also offering vaccination programs for certain groups of adults.
For now, DOH recommends the adult vaccinations which protect against influenza and pneumococcal disease for people in high-risk groups, such as those with chronic medical conditions and the elderly.
Not many people are aware that influenza can be fatal for the elderly, those with pre-existing lung disease, diabetes and weakened immune systems.
However, the number of people in these high-risk groups who get vaccinated is still very low.
This could be because of the lack of awareness among patients, their families and health-care providers.
The article quotes Dr Lim Poh Lian, deputy clinical director of the Communicable Disease Center, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, as saying that a large number of in-patients have conditions that make it advisable for them to be immunized against major diseases.
As such, it would make sense to offer them these vaccinations before they are discharged, according to Dr Lim.
Hospitalization also offers an opportunity for these patients to lump the cost of vaccination with the hospital bill, using, for example, funds from their Medisave account.
We also spoke to Dr Wong Kae Thong, a Singaporean General Practitioner who has an interest in women’s and children’s health.
He emphasized the importance of adult vaccinations, especially for older adults, those who travel frequently, and those with chronic medical conditions.
He also mentioned that while the usual adult vaccines (discussed below) are applicable to older adults, the influenza, pneumococcal and shingles vaccines are especially relevant for seniors.
Which adult vaccinations could save lives?
Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory passages causing fever, severe aching, and catarrh, and often occurring in epidemics.
Who should get the vaccine? Adults of all ages, especially those with immune system problems, diabetes, and lung, heart, kidney or liver disease
Frequency: Health specialists recommend that adults get this vaccine at least once a year
2. Pneumoccocal Disease
Pneumococcal disease is the leading infectious cause of death in children and adults worldwide. It is a bacterial infection that causes pneumonia, meningitis, bacteremia and other life-threatening ailments.
Who should get the vaccine? All adults aged 50 years and above, as well as those with immune system problems, diabetes, and lung, heart, kidney or liver disease
Frequency: Those aged 50 and above are advised to have it once. Those with impaired immunity may need it once every 5 years
3. Tetanus and Pertussis
Tetanus, or lockjaw, is a bacterial disease that affects the brain and nervous system. The most common way bacteria enter the system is through a wound or cut (.
Pertussis, or Whooping Cough, is a highly contagious and dangerous respiratory infection.
Who should get the vaccine? All adults need booster shots against tetanus after their childhood booster shots at age 10-12. All adults should get booster shots against pertussis too.
Frequency: Once every 10 years for both boosters
4. Measles, Mumps and Rubella
These are all diseases caused by viruses. Rubella, also known as German Measles, can be very harmful to the fetus of a pregnant woman who contracts the disease.
Who should get the vaccine? All adults over the age of 30 may need this vaccine against all 3 diseases, especially if they missed getting the vaccination as children.
Women thinking about getting pregnant should definitely talk to their doctor about getting a blood test done to see if they have immunity against Rubella.
If they do not, then they should get at least one injection of the vaccine.
Frequency: At least once in adulthood
5. Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is a very common infection of the liver that is caused by the Hepatitis B virus. It is spread by direct contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person.
Who should get the vaccine? All adults who have not been vaccinated against Hepatitis B previously, especially those with pre-existing liver conditions
According to health specialists, you may also need this vaccine if you were born before 1987, when this vaccine was first introduced to all babies as part of the standard childhood immunization schedule.
You can ask your doctor to do a blood test to check if you have immunity against the virus.
Frequency: One course of 3 doses over 6 months is needed.
6. Cervical Cancer
This is the most common cancer among women but can be effectively treated if detected early.
Who should get the vaccine? Females aged between 13 and 26 can get the vaccine. Males aged between 11 and 26 can get it to prevent anal cancer.
Frequency: One course of 3 doses over 6 months is needed.
Chickenpox is a highly contagious and common childhood disease. If an adult contracts the disease, he/she will, in general, be more severely affected by it than a child.
Who should get the vaccine? All kids and adults who have not been vaccinated against this virus should receive the vaccination.
Frequency: One course of 2 doses is needed over 6 months.
Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash known as Herpes Zoster. It’s caused by the Varicella Zoster virus which also causes chickenpox.
Following chickenpox infection, the virus lays dormant and emerges many years later, particularly putting the elderly at risk.
Who should get the vaccine? All adults from the age of 50 should get the shingles vaccine. Adults who have not had chickenpox should first get the chickenpox vaccine and, once they turn 50, get the shingles vaccine.
Frequency: Once in adulthood
Have you had any of these adult vaccinations? Share your thoughts on adult vaccines with us by leaving a comment!
Republished with permission from theAsianParent Singapore