Vaccinations That Prevent Various Infectious Diseases
“The focus now is on vaccination for adults and other subgroups too for achieving a wider range of immunity against various infectious diseases”
We are definitely more focussed on achieving maximal coverage for childhood immunisation to prevent diseases, which have been affecting the younger age groups including tuberculosis, measles, mumps, rubella, poliomyelitis, diphtheria etc.
Some of these vaccines like the polio vaccine also help in establishing herd immunity in the community. A remarkable achievement in public health was theeradication of small pox (a devastating infection) by means of aggressive worldwide vaccination strategies. We have also achieved good success in trying to tackle the problem of poliomyelitis with extensive immunisation planning at various levels.
In addition to these common diseases, the focus now is also on vaccination for adults and other subgroups for achieving a wider range of immunity against various infectious diseases. Here are some infections that can be prevented by vaccination.
- Hepatitis A
This common communicable disease is spread through food or water contamination and an effective vaccine is available against this disease that can be administered on the upper arm in two doses at zero and six months later. Vaccination can be done from early childhood to any age.
- Hepatitis B
Initial hepatitis B infection may be asymptomatic, but may also lead to complications like chronic Hepatitis B and sometimes, malignancy later on. The vaccine is given on the upper arm in three doses, at zero, one and six months of age.
Patients with renal failure, especially those on dialysis are at particular high risk of infection. These patients require a double dose of vaccine to achieve the same immune response. All healthcare associated personnel should be vaccinated, as they have a high risk of contracting the infection due to exposure to blood or other body fluids.
Chicken pox infection can occur at all ages and is highly contagious. Chicken pox n adults is always more troublesome and complicated. The vaccine is effective and two doses are recommended, at an interval of six
Typhoid infection spreads through food or water contamination and is a common illness. Food hygiene and improved sanitation play a major role in controlling this infection. Various vaccines are available and a single dose of the vaccine oilers a good level of immunity.
Seasonal Influenza and the more worrying strain of H1N1 influenza is preventable by administration of an effective vaccine as a single dose, recommended annually, It can be administered among all age groups and target populations including elderly patients. those with cardiac, lung and kidney diseases.
Streptococcus pneumoniae or pneumococci is a common respiratory pathogen which causes pneumonia. An effective vaccination with a polyvalent polysaccharide conjugate vaccine as a single dose is recommended. Patients with cardiac, renal, pulmonary problems, diabetics and elderly are always advised to get this vaccination.
Rabies is a highly fatal disease and effective vaccination is a must, Post exposure, prophylaxis which is usually recommended after a possible exposure caused through a bite or scratch drawing blood from a suspected animal. Depending on the class of exposure, five or six doses are recommended at zero, three, seven, fourteen, twenty eight and at ninety days.
Good local wound care is always important and administration of rabies specific immunoglobulin may sometimes be necessary. Pro-exposure vaccination is recommended for animal handlers, veterinarians, forest personnel etc.
The human papilloma virus (HPV) is a known cause of cancer of the cervix and is one of the few recommended vaccines which can prevent cancer. Young girls between the ages of 10-16 years are recommended vaccination after consultation with their doctors. There were safety concerns regarding the vaccine earlier, but the benefits are significant.
Tetanus infections occur through spores of the microbe which are almost seen on all surfaces and although uncommon nowadays, effective vaccination from childhood with booster doses and additional vaccination during pregnancy is recommended.
All travellers to South African countries are recommended to take the yellow fever vaccination prior to their visit.
These are some of the Infections which are preventable with proven efficacious vaccines being avail able. Availability of vaccines against dengue, malaria, chikungunya virus, even HIV and newer infections like the Ebola and Zika virus strains are being developed and strategies to tackle these infections would receive a tremendous boost.
The outreach of the immunisation programs with these vaccines will be so much better in reducing the load of these infections, especially in India and other Asian countries and also the African and the South American countries, which have borne the brunt of these and many more life-threatening infections. Till then, continuing to utilise the available vaccines to provide a wide immunity against these preventable illnesses is the course of action that needs to be adhered to.