Adult Vaccination - Defending the Health of Grown-ups

Posted On Aug 17, 2020

Dr. Ranjit Mohan

Consultant - Internal Medicine, Infectious Diseases

Manipal Hospitals - Old Airport Road - Bengaluru

Vaccination in Bangalore

While childhood immunization rates are high and the awareness about it is nearly universal, most adults don’t even realize they need to get vaccines. Adults often don’t get vaccines because they don’t think they need them, they are worried about how they are going to pay for them or they typically haven’t been encouraged to get them.

But they need to — influenza, pneumococcus, Hepatitis B, Tetanus, shingles, whooping cough (pertussis), and head, neck and genital cancers are all adult diseases that can be prevented by vaccines

Did you know that adults are 100 times more likely than children to die of diseases that vaccines can prevent?

Each year in India, vaccine-preventable diseases claim the lives of tens of thousands of adults. As an adult you have got a job, a family, loans to repay, responsibilities to fulfil. Isn’t it time to update your shots and safeguard your health? 

You should…’s the grown-up and responsible thing to do.

Our immune system has two parts to fight infections: one part that quickly attacks anything foreign to our bodies, called our innate immune system, and one part that provides specific immune responses to different viruses and bacteria, called our adaptive immune system. The adaptive immune system is the one that vaccines strengthen. Vaccination is available at Manipal, the best infectious disease treatment hospital in Bangalore, visit today to safeguard yourself.

When we get sick from infection with a virus or bacteria, we usually will not get that illness again. That is because our immune systems have memory. Immune cells, called T cells and B cells, monitor our bodies after an infection, and if the same offender comes back, the immune system recognizes and kills the virus or bacteria before it can hurt us. Vaccines are made with a form of the virus or bacteria that cannot make us sick, but they allow our immune systems to develop memory cells and subsequently protect our bodies. 

But why do adults need vaccines, especially when they have already been vaccinated in childhood? 

By the time we are grown-ups, our immune systems have seen many infections and developed many memory cells. However, there are several reasons why vaccines are still necessary: 

• Sometimes the vaccine does not provide lifelong protection because immunity fades (examples: diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccines). 

• Sometimes the virus or bacteria changes or mutate through time, so the memory cells will not recognize it as well, or even at all (example: influenza). 

• Sometimes the ageing immune system becomes susceptible to diseases that were less of a threat at an earlier age (examples: shingles and pneumococcus). 

Types of vaccines

 There are several different methods for making vaccines: 

• Use the live, weakened virus – Examples of this type are chickenpox, measles, mumps, rubella and one of the shingles vaccines. 

• Use the whole, killed virus or bacteria – Examples are hepatitis A vaccines and most of the influenza shots. 

• Use a piece of the virus or bacteria – The Hepatitis B, Human Papillomavirus (HPV), meningococcal and pneumococcal vaccines are made by this method. Sometimes, these pieces of the virus or bacteria are linked to another protein that helps make the immune response stronger. 

• Use inactivated toxins (poisons) produced by the bacteria — in some cases, poisons produced by the bacteria are the cause of disease. To protect people from illness, they must be protected against poisons more than from bacteria. These vaccines contain poisons one of the reasons that have been inactivated (called the toxoids) so that they cannot cause illness. The vaccines for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis are examples of this type

Vaccines For Some Adults

 Some of the vaccines commonly recommended for adults include:

• Pneumococcal Vaccine 

• Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine 

• Hepatitis A Vaccine 

• Hepatitis B Vaccine 

• Varicella (Chickenpox) Vaccine 

• Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) Vaccine 

• Meningococcal Vaccine

• Tetanus Toxoid

• Typhoid vaccine

• Vaccination for travel- Yellow fever, Japanese Encephalitis vaccine, etc

Consult with the top doctors in Bangalore to know which vaccine is required by you. 

Common Questions and Concerns About Vaccines

Are vaccines safe? 

To best answer this question, we must first define what we mean when we say “safe.” If by “safe” we mean completely risk-free, then vaccines aren’t 100 per cent safe. Like all medicines, vaccines have mild side effects, such as pain, tenderness or redness at the site of injection. And some vaccines have very rare, but more serious, side effects. But nothing is harmless. Anything that we put into our bodies (like vitamins or antibiotics) can have side effects. Even the most routine activities can be associated with hidden dangers. 

For example, consider seat belts. It’s possible that in an accident a seat belt could cause a minor injury, like a bruise. But if you measure the risk of wearing a seat belt against the risk of not wearing one, the decision to wear a seat belt is an easy one. Likewise, for each of the recommended vaccines, the benefits far outweigh the risks. 

Why do adults need vaccines?

Adults need vaccines for the following reasons: 

• To boost immunity – Some vaccines do not provide enough immunity to last throughout life, so additional doses are necessary as adults. Examples of this type include tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. 

• To protect against diseases that have not been encountered – For example, since the introduction of the chickenpox vaccine, there is less opportunity for the immune system to “see” varicella virus, and since adults who get chickenpox tend to be more ill, it is important for adults who have not had chickenpox to get the vaccine. 

• To protect against viruses that change – Some viruses adapt to their environment in a “survival of the fittest” manner so that older versions of the vaccine are no longer effective in protecting against the disease. An example of this type is the yearly influenza vaccine. 

Some vaccines do not provide enough immunity to last throughout life, so additional doses are necessary as adults.

• To protect against diseases that tend to infect particular groups of people – The pneumococcal vaccine is an example of this type because it, primarily infects those younger than 2 years old, immune-compromised people, and those 65 and older. Since there was not a vaccine available when most adults were children and the susceptibility increases beyond age 65, the vaccine is recommended for this age group. 

Some adults younger than 65, but with particular immune-related conditions that increase their susceptibility are also recommended to receive this vaccine. Similarly, since the chickenpox virus lives silently in the nervous system, it can reactivate to cause shingles at any time; however, most frequently this occurs when a person’s immune system is weakened by other diseases, some treatments or through ageing. This is why the shingles vaccine is recommended for everyone 50 years of age and older. 

Do vaccines weaken the immune system? 

No. But sometimes, infections with natural viruses can weaken the immune system. For example, people infected with the influenza virus are at risk of developing severe bacterial pneumonia. However, because the bacteria and viruses contained in vaccines are highly weakened versions of natural bacteria and viruses, they do not weaken the immune system. On the contrary, vaccines prevent infections that weaken the immune system. 

If I have an egg allergy, can I get vaccines?

Yes. Because the quantity of egg proteins in the influenza vaccine is about a hundredfold less than that required to induce a severe allergic reaction, the influenza vaccine can be given safely even to those who have severe egg allergies. However, people who are concerned should stay in the doctor’s office for about 30 minutes after receiving the vaccine.  Yellow fever vaccine is also grown in eggs, so people with egg allergies should discuss the risks and benefits with their doctor. 

What is Travel Vaccination?

Specific vaccines are required/recommended for travel to specific regions of the world. This information is available from the health/immigration authorities of specific countries.

People travelling to other countries should check with their primary care physician, local health department or a travel clinic to be sure they receive the necessary immunizations

To determine which vaccines they need, providers should know the location, duration, activities, dates and purpose of the trip. Details like the time of year or whether one is staying in a city. The area of a country is also important in determining which vaccines are necessary.

Recommended vaccines that are important to check include diphtheria, polio, hepatitis B, measles, pertussis, influenza, mumps, rubella, tetanus and hepatitis A

Vaccines that might be necessary depending upon the trip include Japanese encephalitis, meningococcal, rabies, tick-borne encephalitis (TBE), typhoid and yellow fever.

Some countries require proof of receipt of the yellow fever vaccine before crossing the border. This vaccine can be given only by certified yellow fever vaccine centres.  

Why do patients prefer Manipal Hospitals for their Adult Vaccination requirements?

Since a wide range of vaccines are readily available here and it is one of the very few institutions in India which considers adult vaccination as a public health priority. Reliable vaccination-related counselling and Infectious Disease services are easily accessible at Manipal Hospital to facilitate adult vaccination.


Dr Ranjit Mohan

Consultant, Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases

Manipal Hospitals Bangalore – Old Airport Road