Thanks to advancements in medicine, there are now 26 different diseases that can be prevented through immunisation. Each disease is different, and an individual’s age and lifestyle will affect how vulnerable they are to a particular disease. Find out which diseases you or your loved ones are vulnerable to in order to get the right immunisations.
Children are most vulnerable in their first 2 years of life, which is why they seem to receive the most immunisations. Rest assured that doctors and experts have carefully designed their childhood immunisation schedule (known as the National Immunisation Programme) to ensure your little ones receive basic but essential protection from 12 vaccine-preventable diseases.
Protection from some of our childhood vaccines may wear off over time. We are also vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases due to our age, health condition, where we are travelling to, and our job requirements.
Even young and healthy adults can be vulnerable. Some diseases are so common amongst young adults that certain states in United States of America require college students to get immunised against diseases like meningitis.
Parents and Child Minders
Protecting your baby from vaccine-preventable diseases is always a priority. However, this is not limited to getting them immunised. Parents, grandparents, siblings, baby sitters, and day-care providers all need to be fully immunised before they are allowed to care for children.
Elders (above 65)
Older adults generally have weaker immune systems, and hence are more susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases. One example of the most common illness the elderly go though is pneumonia and therefore need to be immunised with the pneumococcal vaccine. There are still many other vaccine-preventable diseases that the elderly are vulnerable too.
Some diseases are endemic in certain parts of the world. This is why specific vaccines are recommended (e.g. yellow fever) before visiting some countries (e.g. certain African countries). Muslim pilgrims going on the Haj are also advised to take certain vaccines (e.g. the meningococcal vaccine). Regardless of such regulations, it is always a good idea to be immunised when travelling. This is to prevent yourself from being infected overseas and bringing it home to your loved ones.
Those With Health Conditions
If a person suffers from chronic illness (e.g. diabetes and liver diseases), it may weaken their immune system, making them more vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases. The efficacy of a vaccine may even decrease with time. Therefore, it is highly recommended they get immunised as soon as possible.
When Immunisation Is Not Advisable
Before you or anyone in your family receives a vaccine, it is important to discuss your family’s medical history, as well as any pre-existing medical conditions or allergies, with your doctor. This will help determine whether you, or anyone in your family, should not receive specific vaccines. The following individuals are advised to talk to their doctor before getting immunised:
- Those who have experienced a serious reaction to a previous dose of a vaccine.
- Those with pre-existing medical conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, or heart and lung diseases.
- Those receiving treatment for cancer or steroid-therapy, as this weakens the immune system.
- Pregnant women, as certain live vaccines are not recommended during pregnancy.
- Those who feel unwell on the day of vaccination (for example, if suffering from a fever or a cold).
If you have any other issues or questions, talk to your doctor.