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Dubai: With the UAE marking World Immunisation Week till April 30, doctors are reminding residents to revisit their need for vaccinations. 
Debunking the general myth that immunisation updates are important only for children, Dr George Thachil, specialist physician at Aster Clinic Dubai Silicon Oasis, said, “As the World Health Organisation celebrates World Immunisation Week under the theme #Vaccineswork, the effort this year is to raise awareness about the importance of full immunisation throughout one’s life.”

He said it doesn’t matter whether an adult cannot remember if a certain vaccine has been taken at a younger age. “We can always do a blood test to find out the level of antibodies and if found low, can repeat the vaccine. In any case, these levels come down over the years and booster doses are necessary to boost immunity.”

New vaccines

He said another reason why the immunisation schedule needs a revisit in adulthood is that many vaccines were developed or policies regarding the prevention of certain diseases were introduced only recently. “As an example, Zoster V vaccine to prevent shingles came about only 10-12 years ago. It would not have existed when many of us were younger.”

Dr Sherif Fayed, pulmonary specialist at Al Zahra Hospital, said, “Even if you were vaccinated at a younger age, the protection from some vaccines can wear off or the virus or bacteria that the vaccine protects against changes so your resistance is not as strong. As you get older, you may also be at risk for vaccine-preventable diseases due to your age, job, hobbies, travel, or health conditions.”

He said, “Too many adolescents and adults are not receiving the vaccines they need. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people with asthma, COPD, diabetes and heart disease should vaccinate against pneumococcal disease, once as an adult before 65 and two more doses later. It recommends vaccination against meningococcal disease for adults who are 56 and older, have complement component deficiency, damaged spleen etc.”

Dr Thachil said young adults may typically need booster shots for tetanus and diphtheria as it is recommended every 10 years. “With summer vacations round the corner, it is important that you protect yourself against typhoid and water-borne diseases. So it may be prudent to look at the need for typhoid and Hepatitis A vaccines.”