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National Vaccination Day is all about acknowledging and appreciating the hard work of frontline health care workers to ensure that every child is vaccinated. While India observes March 16 as National Vaccination Day, women should also be aware of the vaccines that they need. Be it to protect against cervical cancer or measles or mumps, women need to get their shots on time. After all, vaccines or immunization help to safeguard health to a great extent.
HealthShots consulted Dr Bindhu KS, Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai, and Dr Vaishali Lokhande, Consultant, Internal Medicine, Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai, to know more about vaccines for women that can be given to them as children or even during pregnancy.
Vaccines every woman needs
1. Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine
There’s a reason why doctors have been urging women to get this vaccine. Dr Bindhu says that most cervical cancers are associated with HPV, which spread through sexual contact. The HPV vaccine can prevent most cases of cervical cancer. But the catch here is that the vaccine needs to be given before girls or women are exposed to the virus. The vaccine does more than that, as it can also prevent anal cancers and mouth, throat, head and neck cancers in women and men. You get the shot as early as age 9 or when you turn 45. But the ideal age for vaccination is 11 or 12 years old.
2. Influenza (flu) vaccine
Anyone can take the flu vaccine, but it is especially important for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have weak immune systems, says Dr Lokhande. Kids over the age of 6 months can get it. Vaccination during pregnancy can also be done. If a woman does not receive the flu vaccine, she may be at risk of developing severe complications from influenza, particularly if she is pregnant or has underlying medical conditions such as asthma or arthritis.
3. Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (TDAP) vaccine
This vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, which is whooping cough. Dr Bindhu says that these can be life-threatening. This vaccine needs to be taken more than once. Women who are done with a primary series of diphtheria- and tetanus toxoid-containing vaccine should get a booster dose of tetanus and diphtheria vaccine every 10 years. Women can get the Tdap vaccine at any time during pregnancy, but the ideal time is between 27 and 36 weeks of each pregnancy. This will help to protect the mom and her little one.
4. Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine
It protects against measles, mumps, and rubella. These viruses can cause serious complications such as brain damage, deafness, and even death. Dr Lokhande says that once a child turns 12 to 15 months of age, the vaccine can be given. The second dose can be given between 4 and 6 years of age, and another dose at age 15 as well.
5. Hepatitis B vaccine
As the name suggests, this vaccine protects against hepatitis B, which is a virus that can cause liver disease and liver cancer, says Dr Bindhu. This vaccine is administered to all newborns, but those who missed it, the series of three vaccines can be given at any time, says Dr Lokhande.
Getting vaccinated is a safe and effective way for women to protect their health and also prevent the spread of infectious diseases. So, pregnant or not, don’t forget to get your shots!