Global discussions around adult vaccination

Professor Prakash Jeena, Dr Allison Glass from Lancet Laboratories and Professor Barry Schoub, Professor of virology at Wits University.

Doctors and medical experts around Melville and Randburg met on 21 April to discuss adult vaccination ahead of global vaccination week from 24 to 30 April.

Children are vaccinated from an early age and continue but adult vaccination has increasingly become scarce. Vaccination in adults is just as important as from an early age. Immunity in adults decreases over time and in cases where vaccination is missed as a child, it is important to vaccinate as an adult.

“People forget that vaccine-preventable diseases cause severe outbreaks and can kill adults. Disease prevention is often neglected once people reach adulthood. There is a lack of adult vaccination amongt health care professionals,” said Dr Allison Glass from the Lancet Laboratories in the infectious disease division.

When you skip vaccinations, you leave yourself vulnerable to diseases such as shingles, hepatitis and cancers caused by strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV). According to the World Health Organisation, immunisation prevents between 2 to 3 million deaths every year.

In South Africa, vaccination programmes are targeted at infants and children. Glass insisted that SA is still better off than most developing countries. South Africa was one of the first countries in Africa to introduce the HPV vaccine every year for girls who turn nine years old, as part of its school health programme.

Glass said the key adult vaccinations included:

• Influenza

• Tetanus

• Pertussis

• Pneumococcal

• Shingles

• Human papillomavirus

• Hepatitis B

• Rubella

Alice Mpholo

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