PUNE: From common flu to hepatitis to cervical cancer, immunization can prevent a series of dangerous diseases in adults or reduce the intensity of others. Despite being recognized as a life saver, the practice of vaccination is yet to become commonplace in India to prevent diseases, say experts.
Unlike in western countries, immunisation in India is largely associated with children. It is largely due to much visible public awareness programmes about early vaccinations such as polio, tetanus, chickenpox etc. But, not many people are aware about the fact that vaccinations can be useful at each and every stage of life from youth to advanced years.
Vaccination can reduce the health and economic burden of diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough. It can also turn out to be life saving in many cases by preventing hepatitis B, cervical cancer and reducing the severity of pneumonia in the elderly.
"The culture of adult vaccination is yet to catch up in India. There is a general belief that vaccination is for children, and this belief leads to a resistance among adults to the idea of vaccination. Even people who are aware opt for vaccinations only occasionally. Many believe they do not need vaccination, others believe it is not effective enough. We must also start awareness campaigns about prevention through vaccinations of life-threatening diseases such as cervical cancer and hepatitis B," said infectious diseases expert Mahesh Lakhe of Columbia Asia hospital, Kharadi, Pune.
Immunization helps body develop immunity against the targeted infection. It is very useful in case of viral infections for which we do not yet have treatment as such.
"In case of high risk persons, those who have their immunity compromised due to some circumstances, immunization becomes life saving," Lakhe said.