Millions of people suffer from various diseases and many die of them. The causes range from poor care to lack of awareness about disease and their prevention. Prevention is always better than cure. An important method of prevention is vaccination.
- They are the cheapest, most effective and people friendly technique of preventing many deadly infections.
- Its true that many diseases like tuberculosis and hepatitis are curable but only if diagnosed earlier.
- Delayed or wrong diagnosis too sometimes let the patient have treatment but the expenses are very high. For example, the treatment for hepatitis B- chronic inflammation of liver- can cost about Rs 20,000 every month apart from side effects like stomach ache, neuropathy and nausea.
What are the Vaccines for Adults?
Following vaccines are meant for adults.
Hepatitis A and B: Eighty percent of all liver cancer is caused by hepatitis B virus. The vaccine against this virus is usually given in 3 doses at the interval of 0, 1 and 6 months and a booster dose every 5 years. For hepatitis A, vaccine is given in 2 doses.
HPV: Vaccination against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) prevents cervical cancer in women. This virus is transmitted by a man to his female partner during intercourse. The infection not only can cause cancer of cervix but also can lead to complications in reproductive system of the affected woman. HPV vaccine, in 3 doses, is suggested for all women between 18 and 26 years of age. Women who are already sexually active can be given this vaccine according to their age based medical analysis.
Influenza: The vaccine for flu reduces risk of cardiovascular diseases by about 19%. For diabetics, the percentage for reduced risk is even higher- about 56%. It also helps the elderly and avoids the risk of pneumonia and respiratory conditions.
Tetanus: One vaccine can immunize a person for 10 years from the deadly disease of tetanus.
Japanese encephalitis: Vaccine for Japanese encephalitis and yellow fever should be taken by those people who travel frequently. This neurological viral infection is spread by mosquitoes.
Varicella: This vaccine can prevent complications in those people who did not have chickenpox in childhood. It is especially for people with reduced immunity and is given in 2 doses.
MMR: It is especially for women in childbearing age. Rubella infection in pregnant women can harm her unborn child. An attack of mumps can even lead to orchitis which causes infertility in males.
Shingles: The zoster vaccine is for people above the age of 60 years. Those who have already experienced an episode of shingles can also take this vaccine. It has mild side effects like rashes at the place where injection is administered and headache.
There are even super vaccines or the combination vaccines. They combine many vaccines in a single shot. The examples include vaccine for DPT with hepatitis B and inactivated polio (IPV); MMR with varicella (MMRV); MMR with chickenpox; Hepatitis A & B; Hib (Influenza B) and DPT. All of them may or may not have general side effects like fever and irritability.
Vaccines for Immuno-Compromised People
Those people who fall in the category of immuno-compromised population (like those suffering from renal failure, cancer or AIDS, people above 60 and obese) are more susceptible to infections. A vaccine which is 98% effective on general population, show only 40% positive results in them. However, they can be vaccinated with higher doses and sometimes with vaccine adjuvants. Vaccine adjuvants are pharmalogical agents that increase a vaccine’s ability to provide immunity. In fact, vaccines against hepatitis B, chickenpox and pneumococcal infections are a must for such people.
There are many deadly diseases against whom vaccines are not available presently but researches are being conducted for them. These may be available in future. Some of such vaccines in pipeline include:
HIV: ICMR in Delhi is coordinating the research for this vaccine against HIV that is in its phase 1 trial. It will protect against HIV sub type C.
Tuberculosis: St John’s Research Institue, Bangalore is conducting a research to develop a vaccine for pulmonary TB- the most common form in India.
Malaria: International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in Delhi is conducting trials for this vaccine against the age old malaria which is expected to be available by 2015.
Anti-pregnancy: Talwar Research Foundation in Delhi is conducting a research for a reversible vaccine that is expected to replace contraceptive pills. It will give contraception without interfering with the reproductive system.