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Reasons Why Vaccines Are Good For AdultsHomeYour HealthManaging Your HealthImmunization For Adults

‘Prevention’ has an important role to play in living a healthy, disease-free life, well into old age – a fact that more adults need to be aware of. And, prevention starts with good lifestyle habits such as a healthy diet, plenty of exercise, a work-life balance and staying stress-free as far as possible. However, there is one crucial piece that needs to be added to this blueprint for a healthy life: vaccines.1

One of the most important buzzwords today is ‘vaccine’. Vaccines are medical marvels that have changed the course of the world.2 And, most recently, the speed with which vaccines were created to fight the COVID-19 pandemic has astonished citizens across the globe. And thanks to the many options available, the spotlight on vaccines is now brighter than ever.

Before the pandemic, most people, when they hear the word ‘vaccine’, immediately thought of babies or children accompanied by parents, waiting for their turn with the doctor. While majority of the population have been vaccinated as children, they were not always aware that vaccination is important for adults as well. To understand why vaccines are important to adult health, we first need to understand the body’s immune system and how vaccines interact with the immune system to create a protective shield against illnesses.


The immune system is a vital part of the body’s defense against external microbial ‘intruders’ such as bacteria, viruses and parasites. It is a mechanism through which the body responds to these intruders.
​​​​​​​Before attacking the intruder, the immune system must first correctly identify these dangerous microbes. Once that is done, it produces special white blood cells that go into action to eliminate this threat.


One remarkable characteristic of the immune system is its ability to remember a past infection. This ability is why vaccination helps to protect the body against different microbes.

This is how it happens: a vaccine is usually a weakened or killed form of an organism/toxin, or a part of it. When it is introduced into the body, the immune system thinks that the vaccine is the actual microbe or toxin and activates an immune response to the perceived danger. The immune system also creates specialised memory cells that are able to recognise the microbe or toxin later. So, if or when the actual pathogen strikes, these thousands of memory cells can trigger a full-blown attack quickly and neutralise the pathogen.


As people grow older, there are changes in their immune system. Its response to invading microbes slows down and it takes the body longer to recover because of fewer immune cells. This increases the risk of frequent or even severe illnesses. Infected adults also pose a threat to their family members. Young children, older parents and those who may already be sick have a relatively weaker immune system and are even more vulnerable to infections. Apart from age, chronic disease, occupation and work-related or recreational travel can also increase an adult’s risk for certain vaccine preventable infections.


Vaccination enables adults to stay healthy and in turn create a healthy environment for those around them. Moreover, the protection from a few childhood vaccines gets weaker with time, which is why some of those vaccines may have to be repeated. Some vaccines may not have been given to an adult as a child, so these also may have to be taken. Moreover, ongoing research and development has made more vaccines available today, than were available less than three decades ago. Additionally, childhood vaccines may not cover all the infections to which adults may be vulnerable. All these factors together make a good case for vaccinating adults.


According to the World Health Organization, ‘Vaccines are safe’. Vaccines that are licensed for use have undergone rigorous clinical trials and continue to be monitored even after introduction in the market. Most of the reactions to vaccines are temporary and minor. In the rare case of a serious event, the incident needs to be reported to the physician and/or relevant authority.

“Vaccination is an important, preventive and easy to use tool that saves lives by preventing infection. People think that vaccination is only for kids. While it is important that children are vaccinated, it is just as important for adults. Countries must make adult vaccination a part of their universal immunisation programmes. In my own practice, I make it a point to stress on the importance of adult vaccination.”Dr. Raja DharConsultant Respiratory Physician,
Fortis Hospital, Kolkata


1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Attention Adults: You Need Vaccines Too. Last reviewed: February 25, 2019. Available from: [Accessed 18th May 2022].
2. Evans S, Jewell N. Vaccine Effectiveness Studies in the Field. New England Journal of Medicine. 2021;385(7):650-651. [Accessed 15th May 2022]
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Understanding How Vaccines Work. Updated August 2018. Available from: [Accessed 18th May 2022].
4. Tortora, G. J., Grabowski, S. R., & Tortora, G. J. (2000). Principles of anatomy and physiology (9th ed.). New York: Wiley.
5. MedlinePlus. Aging changes in immunity. Last reviewed: July 19, 2020. Available from: [Accessed 18th May 2022].
6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 3 Important Reasons For Adults to Get Vaccinated. March 2020. Available from: [Accessed 18th May 2022].
7. World Health Organization. Questions and answers on immunization and vaccine safety. March 2020. Available from: [Accessed 18th May 2022].

Disclaimer: The content herein is meant for informational and awareness purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for competent medical advice.

PP-CPF-IND-0039 | 18/05/2022
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