Immunisations For Adults – More Important Than You

22 Apr, 2024

Immunisations or vaccinations are not just for children. Immunisations are as important for adults as they are for children. Despite taking vaccines against various infectious diseases as a child, you may still be at risk of developing certain infectious diseases. This is because, the effect of certain vaccines weaken with time. Many factors such as your age, occupation, lifestyle habits, travelling and your overall health conditions contribute to your risk of developing particular infectious diseases, and this is where immunisations help you.

The main purpose of immunisation among adults is to build immunity against a particular infection or disease even before they contract it.

Immunisation plays a crucial role in preventing various dreadful infections and the complications associated with them. These immunisations are even more important for cancer patients as they are more susceptible to infections or vaccine-preventable diseases due to their reduced immunity.

How Do Immunisations Work?

Vaccines are synthesised using killed or weakened versions of the disease-causing pathogen or microorganism – it could be bacterium or virus. In some cases, a part of the microorganism, namely antigen, is used for the vaccine creation. For a few diseases, genetically-engineered antigens are used for immunisation.

When these immunisations are administered into the human body, the antigens, which are the fragments of pathogens or toxins, within them trigger the body’s immune system. The immune system uses various mechanisms to address the infection and repair the damage caused by the pathogen.

It is important to note that these particles from the viruses or bacteria are only strong enough to stimulate an immune response but not trigger an infection itself.

Immunisation is the safest way to curb the risk of a myriad of life-threatening infections. There are hardly any side effects associated with the vaccinations, and the ones that do occur are mild and wear off in some time.

Importance of Immunisation among Adults

Immunisation among adults is of paramount importance. It not only keeps you safe and stay healthy but also helps your family remain safe and healthy. The key advantages of immunisation among adults:

  • With age, adults develop chronic disorders like diabetes, heart disorders and lung problems. This puts them at a higher risk of certain infections, and it can be prevented through immunisations.
  • Adults should consider vaccination as it helps protect the children and older adults around them. Infants, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems (like those undergoing cancer treatment ) are especially vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases.
  • Contracting infections while travelling is a commonly seen scenario. Consulting the specialist, learning about immunisations available and taking them accordingly, helps in reducing the risk of various dreadful infections.
  • It not only protects against conditions like flu, allergies, etc. but also helps prevent many other health conditions such as HPV infections and thereby multiple anogenital cancers, hepatitis and thereby liver failure and other liver-related problems, etc.

Immunisations for Cancer Patients

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can weaken the immune system among cancer patients, and this makes them vulnerable to a few life-threatening infections. However, not all vaccines are recommended for cancer patients – the need may vary from patient to patient. It is always better to talk to the specialist for the best recommendation on the suitable vaccines.

Here is the list of vaccines available at HCG Cancer Centre’s dedicated immunisation clinic in Kolkata and the diseases and complications that can be prevented with the administration of these vaccines:

Diseases and the vaccines that help you prevent them

How the disease can affect you

Disease: Influenza “Flu”

Vaccine: Seasonal flu vaccine

Fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, headache, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, muscle or body aches and fatigue (very tired), and some people may have vomiting and diarrhoea, though this is more common in children than adults.

Disease Complications: Pneumonia (infection in the lungs), worsening of chronic health conditions, hospitalisation, possibly resulting in disability, or even death.

Disease: Hepatitis A

Vaccine: Hep A vaccine

Fever, tiredness, stomach pain, loss of appetite, vomiting, jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes) and dark urine; however, there may be no symptoms.

Disease Complications: Liver failure; arthralgia (joint pain); and kidney, pancreatic and blood disorders.

Disease: Hepatitis B

Hep B vaccine

Flu-like illnesses with loss of appetite, fever, tiredness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, jaundice and joint pain; however, there may be no symptoms.

Disease Complications: Chronic liver infection, liver failure and liver cancer.

Disease: Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Vaccine: HPV vaccine

In most cases, there are no symptoms for years until cancer appears.

Disease Complications: Cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers in women, penile cancer in men and genital warts and anal and oropharyngeal cancers in both women and men.

Disease: Measles

Vaccine: MMR vaccine

Fever, runny nose, cough and rashes all over the body.

Disease Complications: Ear infection, pneumonia, swelling in the brain due to infection or even death.

Disease: Meningococcal Disease

Vaccine: Meningococcal vaccines

Nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, fever, headache, increased sensitivity to light, confusion, tiredness and rash.

Disease Complications: Brain damage, loss of arms or legs, loss of hearing, seizures, strokes or even death.

Disease: Pneumococcal Disease

Vaccine: Pneumococcal vaccines

Fever, chills, difficulty breathing, chest pain, stiff neck, earache, increased sensitivity to light and cough.

Disease Complications: Infections of the lung, middle ear or sinuses, heart problems, brain damage, loss of hearing, loss of arms or legs or even death.

Disease: Tetanus

Vaccine: Td/Tdap vaccines

Serious, painful spasms and stiffness of all muscles, lockjaw (difficulty opening mouth), difficulty swallowing or breathing, muscle spasms and fever.

Disease Complications: Broken bones, breathing difficulty or even death.

Disease: Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

Vaccine: Tdap vaccines

Prolonged cold symptoms (cough and runny nose) leading to violent coughing or choking making it hard to breathe, drink or eat.

Disease Complications: Rib fractures, pneumonia or even death.

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