A city-based health expert has revealed that owing to lack of awareness, adult immunisation is the most ignored part of health services in India. As humans grow older, the protection from some of the vaccines received during childhood wears off. While viruses like the influenza and some bacteria change over time, the immune systems also tend to weaken over time, putting older adults at higher risk of some infections.
"The condition of adult vaccination is abysmal in the country primarily because of lack of awareness amongst people as well as the doctors. It is also not a priority for the government because of the costs involved," said Vivek Nangia, Director and Head of Pulmonology - Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj.
While we do not have any conclusive or comprehensive data on vaccination coverage amongst adults, we very often see adult patients coming with infections that could have been easily prevented with vaccination. These include those between 19 and 64 years or older, the doctor said.
"Moreover, it is an attitudinal problem as vaccination is preventive and that is never a priority for people. The priority is always cure and never prevention," Nangia added.
Adults with certain chronic or immuno-compromising conditions are more likely to develop complications if they were to catch these infections. There is also higher risk of transmission amongst older adults than young children.
Pneumococcal pneumonia and invasive pneumococcal disease, Influenza, Hepatitis A & B, Typhoid, Herpes Zoster, Diphtheria, Tetanus and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infections are some of the diseases that adults can safeguard themselves against through vaccination. Moreover, patients with conditions such as chronic heart disease, diabetes, chronic lung disease, cancer, AIDS are also more susceptible to vaccine-preventable pneumococcal disease.
"With the successful implementation of a national immunisation programme, the cases of vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs) amongst children have decreased substantially over the last century. It's time to focus on adults now," Nangia noted.
(With IANS Inputs)