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            The Aga Khan University Hospital Pakistan

Is Vaccination Needed for Adults?​ Q&A with Dr. Faisal Mahmood

<p>Vaccinations offer immunity which is just as important for adults as is for children. Read on to find out everything you need to know about adult immunization from Dr. Faisal Mahmood, Associate Professor and Section Head of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, The Aga Khan University Hospital. ​

</p><p><strong>Why are vaccines so important for us? </strong></p><p><strong>FM: </strong>Vaccines are an extremely important way of preventing disease and the spread of infection. They help teach the body how to fight infections. If we do not get vaccinated, we are prone to developing many dangerous illnesses.​

</p><p><strong>What vaccines are recommended for adults? Are these available in Pakistan?</strong></p><p><strong>FM: </strong>Generally, we think of vaccinations as something we give to children but many vaccines are also important for adults. Some of these vaccines need to be repeated as well. For example, the influenza vaccine needs to be repeated every year because the virus changes every year. Similarly, the COVID-19 vaccine may be required again in the future depending on how the virus changes. </p><p>Other vaccines for adults include the tetanus vaccine, which should be given if one gets an injury; the Hepatitis B vaccine, which prevents certain types of liver cancer; the vaccine for streptococcus pneumoniae, which is bacteria that can cause meningitis and pneumonia and which the elderly should get. </p><p>There are certain vaccines that pregnant women should get, such as for diphtheria and tetanus. Other vaccines may be required if you&#39;re at risk of certain diseases; for example, if you&#39;re traveling, you may need to get the yellow fever vaccine. Some vaccines are unfortunately not available in Pakistan, such as the vaccine for shingles.</p><p>For a list of adult vaccinations available at AKUH, please see <a href="/pakistan/Health-Services/pharmacy/Documents/Adult%20Vaccination%20List_Sept%202020_v3.pdf">here</a>.

</p><p><strong>People often don&#39;t get vaccinated because of cost or side effects. What do you advise about this?</strong></p><p><strong>FM: </strong>The cost depends on the vaccine; some vaccines are free, like the COVID-19 vaccine, while others can be expensive, like the vaccine for streptococcus pneumoniae. But the important thing to realize is that the cost of treating the disease is a lot more than the cost of getting the vaccine. Think of vaccination as an insurance policy. </p><p>Most vaccinations have temporary side effects if any; these generally include a little bit of fever, some pain at the site of injection, and fatigue, but the side effects are minimal. Remember these are very similar to the vaccines we give to our children and if they are safe for our children, they are definitely safe for us.

</p><p><strong>What are some common myths and misconceptions about vaccination and how would you address them? </strong></p><p><strong>FM: </strong>I think the biggest misconception around vaccines is safety; people are worried that these vaccines may have harmful effects on the body. Keep in mind that these vaccines have been used by millions of people with no major side effects. Always remember that the disease is a lot more dangerous than the vaccine. </p><p>Some vaccines are unsafe for certain people; for example, the MMR vaccine cannot be given during pregnancy but should be given after pregnancy or when a woman is not pregnant. Similarly, some vaccines cannot be given to people with low immunity, such as people who are on chemotherapy or on medications that can lower immunity.  </p><p>There are some myths that vaccines can lead to infertility or certain effects on the brain, which are all unfounded as multiple studies have shown that these do not occur.
</p><p><strong>To learn about vaccination for children, <a href="/pakistan/AboutUs/News/Pages/childhood-immunization.aspx">click here​​</a>.</strong></p>
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