Why adults need to go for vaccination

A woman getting a tetanus shot. Vaccination and adherence to healthy lifestyle protects one from diseases

As an adult who completed all your childhood vaccination or were never fully immunized, you may think you are off the hook when it comes to vaccines. You are not! There are plenty of reasons to get vaccinated as an adult.

According to the Uganda National Expanded Programme for Immunisation (UNEPI), some vaccines wear off with time and new vaccines are introduced. In addition, one may be at a higher risk of catching certain diseases that adult shots can protect them from.

The deputy executive director of East Africa Centre for Vaccines and Immunisation (ECAVI), Dr Elizabeth Kutamba, says it is important for adults to be vaccinated to keep certain diseases at bay.

“As an adult, you need to get a booster dose to amplify your immunity because some vaccines wear off and may not be able to protect you,” Kutamba says.

She adds that some vaccines are taken once and never require booster shots.

“Some diseases can be deadly when they attack adults who are not immunized, therefore, one should not take chances,” Kutamba says.

  • Tuberculosis — BCG
  • Poliomyelitis — OPV/IPV
  • Whooping cough — Pertussis (DPT-HepB — Hib)
  • Diphtheris — (DPT-HepBHib)
  • Tetanus — Tetanus (DPTHepB-Hib)
  • Measles — Measles Vaccine
  • Neonatal Tetanus — Tetanus Toxoid (for WCBA)
  • Hepatitis B infection — Hepatitis B (DPT-HepB-Hib)
  • H. Influenzae infection — Hib(DPT-HepB-Hib)
  • Cancer of cervix — HPV vaccine
  • Pneumococcal infections — Pneumococcal Conjugat Vaccine

Kutamba says the shots or jabs an adult requires are determined by one’s age, job, lifestyle, health, travel destinations and which vaccines one has had in the past. The Uganda Immunisation Policy indicates that routine immunisation is carried out against the following diseases: tuberculosis, measles, pertussis (whooping cough), diphtheria, maternal and neonatal tetanus, poliomyelitis, Hepatitis B and haemophilus influenza type B disease.

The Kabarole district health officer, Dr Richard Mugahi, says most adults in Uganda have not embraced vaccination, especially against hepatitis B.

“The only time majority of the adults go for vaccination is when they are travelling and it is one of the requirements for the visa. However, I would encourage Ugandans to go for these shots,” Mugahi says.

In Uganda, vaccination against other communicable diseases such as yellow fever, meningococcal meningitis and rabies is carried out by the Ministry of Health in partnership with the private sector as guided by the disease epidemiology.

Dr Immaculate Ampeire, the senior medical officer of UNEPI, says irrespective of age, all people need immunisation to protect against serious and deadly diseases. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), vaccination is critical to protecting both adults and children from diseases including rubella and congenital rubella syndrome, measles, hepatitis B, pneumococcal disease, influenza, and cancers caused by the human papilloma virus.

“Vaccination is one of the safest ways for an individual to protect their health and that of others. However, this does not work in isolation, you have to put into consideration other interventions such as hygiene and adherence,” Ampeire says.

Although not all vaccines can be found in public health facilities, anyone can get vaccinated from private facilities at a cost.

What is vaccination?

Vaccination is the term used for getting a vaccine either through an injection or orally. Immunisation is the process whereby a person is made immune to an infectious disease, typically by the administration of a vaccine.

Vaccines stimulate the body’s immune system to protect the person against subsequent infection or disease. Immunity can be built either naturally or artificially. Artificial immunisation is achieved through administering vaccines either orally or by injection. The administered vaccine stimulates the body to make antibodies.

The body retains antibodies and the capacity to produce more antibodies when attacked by infection against which the vaccine was given. All vaccines provided by UNEPI are safe, potent and offered free of charge.