Adult vaccination yet to catch up in Kerala

Many believe only children need to be immunised.

Kochi: Despite the high health awareness, many in Kerala still believe that vaccinations are only for babies. Because of this wrong notion, anti-rabies, rotavirus, pneumococcal, influenza and cervical cancer vaccinations do not get priority, say experts.

While rabies vaccination is taken as a measure against dog bite, rotavirus vaccine is taken for diarrhea and pneumococcal for pneumonia. "Though Kerala has 35 cases of breast cancer cases per 1 lakh women, the cervical cancer cases stand at 7 per 1 lakh and the comparable low incidence is due to the high levels of hygiene in the state. Still it is a cause of concern and vaccination is an option to prevent cervical cancer caused by human papilloma virus infection," said Kochi-based gynec-oncologist Dr Chithrathara. "Every year approximately 67,000 women in India die of cervical cancer."

The incidence of pneumonia is alarming in the state with 11.3 people out of 1,000 reporting the disease. "Both among children and adult this is a cause for concern and people need to be alert against it. There are 5.6 lakh severe episodes of pneumococcal pneumonia in India annually, of which 1 lakh people die. It is the major cause of childhood deaths under 5 years," said Dr Shafi Kolhapure, a vaccination expert from Mumbai.

"In Kerala, the focus is on basic vaccinations taken for children and not on rabies, rotavirus, pneumococcal, influenza and cervical cancer vaccinations which are taken for the adults. But these are also important in the changed scenario due to threat of dog bites, increased cases of pneumonia, spin-off of fevers and increased cancer cases," said Dr Shafi.

India reports the highest rabies death globally at 20,000 per year while 50 per cent rabies exposure occurs in children. A 2009 study notes that 40 percent of all diarrheal hospitalization under five years is due to rotavirus. The Indian disease burden on this count stands at 8.8 lakh hospitalisations annually. There are more than 25 vaccine preventable diseases including Hepatitis-A and B, chickenpox, typhoid, meningococcal and rubella.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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