Immunization is one of the greatest success stories of the 21st century. In the fight against COVID-19 also, vaccines are expected to be the most effective tool to bend the curve and a hope that life will return to the pre-pandemic normal in the near to medium term.
Despite being one of the top ten public health interventions, vaccines are usually associated with protecting young children. The reality is that far too many adults become ill, or die each year from diseases that can easily be prevented by vaccines. According to a latest report by Association of Physicians in India, over 95% of deaths in adults in India are attributable to diseases preventable by vaccines. There are no national adult immunization guidelines in India, making it unclear as to who should receive certain vaccines among adults.
Moreover, there is low awareness among healthcare professionals regarding adult immunization leading to lack of recommendations. Misguided safety concerns, lack of promotion and non-existence of insurance coverage are few more top barriers on uptake of vaccines among adults. Diseases that can be easily prevented through the administration of vaccines not only create a burden on the public health system but also add to the economic hardship of low- and middle-income communities.
There is an urgent need to create awareness about adult immunization – to protect against diseases that adults are more vulnerable to boost the effectiveness of vaccination received in childhood, lower risk of complications of existing chronic diseases, benefit from newer vaccines, and protect against infections while travelling and attending mass gatherings.