Dr Tarun Sahni, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals gives an insight on the importance of vaccines
The ongoing World Immunisation Week is an opportunity to promote vaccination amongst communities and people to ensure their health and protect them against communicable and non-communicable diseases. Widely recognised for its success in saving lives of millions of people world over, nationwide immunisation programmes have helped reach out to even the unreachable communities with cost-effective health interventions.
Vaccination is not just alone meant for children. They are meant to support good health and add value in the life of an adult. Vaccines protect us at every stage of our life. In adult life, one needs to get vaccinated to boost efficacy of the vaccines given in childhood.
World Health Organisation (WHO)’s theme of this year’s campaign is “Protected Together: Vaccines Work”. There are challenges in implementing immunisation programmes, which are due to dogmas and beliefs out of religious sentiments in India. While the Indian government had done well to eradicate these concerns, still a lot of work has to be translated on the ground to ensure that the fruits of immunisation actually benefits people of all generations.
Ensuring vaccination amongst all age groups will help in complete eradication of many diseases and ailments, creating a healthier workforce, which is one of the core elements for any country’s economic growth and financial sustainability. Vaccination also helps in addressing global health concerns, as it prevents transmission of bacteria and viruses across boundaries. Moreover, disease outbreaks impact tourism, trade and economy. Travellers are recommended vaccination hygiene by various health agencies as a precautionary measure. Yellow fever vaccination and photo-booster are mandatory to travellers to some cure on of the world where disease is prevalent and should be complied with completely. Pre-vaccination and countering the disease through immunisation minimises any such impact created.
Recently, a new vaccine called RTS,S developed against malaria, a disease which is responsible for millions of deaths worldwide, has been developed and approved by the WHO. In the initial phase, the vaccine is being administered to patients in Malawi in Africa. Depending on the result, this vaccine will become an integral part of regular vaccination schedule and help in saving millions of lives globally.
Different vaccinations one gets at different stages of life:
- Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR): Two doses of MMR vaccine is administered at the age of 12–15 months and another at 4–6 years.
- Polio (IPV): A child is administered 4 doses of polio vaccine (IPV). The first dose is given to a child at two months, second at four months of age, third dose between six months to 18 months and the fourth dose, between four and six years of age.
- Diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (pertussis; DTaP): A child is administered five doses of DTaP vaccine as primary vaccination. After this, a booster dose should be administered once every ten years till the age of 65.
- Chicken Pox: A child requires two doses of chicken pox vaccine. While the first dose is administered at 12–15 months, the second is done at the age between four and six.
- Hepatitis B (Hep B): First dose is administered at birth, second at 1-2 months, third when the child is four months old and if suggested by the doctor and the fourth between 6–18 months of age. It is currently recommended for all people, children and adults, in India.
- Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib): The child is administered 3-4 doses of Hib vaccine. First dose is given at the age of two months, second at four months and the third dose when the child is six months old. The fourth dose is given, if required, between 12 to 15 months of age of the child.
- Hepatitis A (Hep A): The child is administered two doses of hepatitis A vaccine. However, it can also be administered to adults at any stage of life, if required.
- Influenza (Flu): This vaccination should be administered to the vulnerable group every year on onset of winter. Vulnerable group counts of small children and adults with reduced immunity such as diabetes COPD etc.
It is essential that health workers are given vaccinations for hepatitis B, influenza, MMR, varicella and Tdap. Increasing awareness on vaccination among all groups will help reduce the global burden of disease, healthier work force and savings for the nation.