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Vaccination protects you against diseases. It is an important part of health care as it helps to prevent or reduce the severity of infections. Vaccinations aren’t just for children, they are as important for adults too. There are different vaccines that are recommended for adults, depending on our age, life stage (e.g. an expectant mother), susceptibility, and medical conditions.
If you don’t know what vaccine to get, don’t fret. The National Adult Immunisation Schedule (NAIS) provides comprehensive vaccination recommendations to help you make an informed decision.Read on for reasons why you should get vaccinated, as well as the seven types of vaccines recommended in the NAIS and how often to get them.
Reasons to Get Vaccinated
Protect yourselfAs responsible adults, we take care of our health by eating right and exercising often. It is also just as important for us to get the recommended vaccines that protect us from different diseases and conditions.Vaccinations recommended in the NAIS offer protection against infectious diseases such as the influenza (flu), pneumococcal disease, which can cause pneumonia, and human papillomavirus (HPV), which can lead to cervical cancer.While most healthy adults tend to recover from the flu, the same illness can be life-threatening to the elderly, those who have co-morbidity (concurrent medical conditions) or are immunocompromised (people with weakened immune systems). The influenza and pneumococcal vaccines in particular are especially beneficial to people aged 65 and above, or any adult with weakened immune system or certain medical conditions.
Protect your family and friendsVaccines aren’t only for your protection. They also protect the people closest to you, especially those who are at higher risk of developing complications from certain diseases (e.g. flu or pneumonia), such as young children and the elderly.When more persons in the community are vaccinated, it is less easy for an infection to pass on from one person to another. That itself protects persons who are unable to get vaccinated (for example, due to medical conditions that make them unsuitable for vaccination). Getting vaccinated against pertussis during pregnancy will help protect the baby by passing the mother’s antibodies to the baby before birth.Older adults are also more likely to develop complications should they catch an infectious disease — one reason is that their immune system doesn’t work as well as it used to. The elderly are more likely to develop pneumonia as a result of flu, a serious lung infection that can be life-threatening.If you have an elderly family member, do encourage them to get vaccinated. Protecting yourself against these infectious diseases through vaccinations also provides protection to your loved ones by reducing their exposure to these infectious diseases.7 Vaccines to Protect You Against 11 DiseasesBased on the recommendations of the National Expert Committee on Immunisation, the NAIS recommends seven vaccinations for various adult groups to protect against 11 vaccine-preventable diseases.
The vaccinations are:
Influenza Influenza, commonly known as the "flu", is a contagious disease that can affect anyone including healthy people. It attacks the respiratory tract in humans (nose, throat, and lungs), causing inflammation of the mucous membranes.
Pneumococcal (PCV13/PPSV23)Targeted at adults above the age of 65, this vaccine prevents pneumococcal pneumonia — a bacterial lung infection that, if not treated, can lead to hospitalisation and fatal consequences. Adults below the age of 65 with conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, or who have lower immunity due to an organ transplant, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or cancer, should also get vaccinated.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV2/HPV4)The major cause of cervical cancer is a virus called the human papillomavirus. The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) can infect the cervix, causing the cells to change. In most of the infection cases, the virus clears by itself and the cells return to normal. However, in some cases, the infection can persist and cause the cells to grow in an abnormal way, developing into cervical cancer.
Tdap VaccineThis vaccine prevents tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough. All adults who have not previously had a dose should get this vaccination. Booster shots are administered once every 10 years.
Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) This vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella, which can be serious and cause complications.
Hepatitis BThis is a serious viral liver infection that spreads by direct contact with blood or bodily fluids of a carrier.
Varicella (Chickenpox) Varicella or chickenpox is highly contagious and presents itself with a fever and small, red, and itchy blisters on the body and face. Its effects are usually mild in children but are often more serious in adults. While usually harmless, it may cause serious complications or even death in immunity compromised people such as newborns, chemotherapy or AIDS patients. Chickenpox may also cause stillbirths or birth defects in pregnant women. Immunity against chickenpox is lifelong but adults may develop another condition called shingles at a later stage.
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Sources: HPB & https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/1295/get-vaccinated
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