Whats are Vaccinations?
Vaccinations are an essential part of health maintenance and preventing you and your family from contracting certain diseases.
While everyone should receive some vaccinations, they are especially recommended for frequently travellers who may come into contact with more diseases.
Everyone has different risk factors for disease, depending on where they travel, their own medical condition, and other factors. The best way to ensure adequate protection is to discuss your vaccination history and needs with your doctor.
Here are some of the most common vaccinations and why they are used today:
- Flu vaccine
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis A & Hepatitis B vaccine
- Varicella vaccination
- HPV (9-valent) Vaccination
- Yellow Fever vaccine
- MMR vaccination
- Tdap vaccination
Flu (Quadrivalent) Vaccination
The flu vaccine reduces the risk of contracting the influenza virus. This is a serious illness that can cause a high fever, muscle aches, respiratory illness, cough, and a sore throat. This virus is spread through droplets that are dispersed through the air when you are in close contact with an infected person.
The flu can also be made more serious with development of pneumonia, ear or sinus infections, meningitis, and heart muscle inflammation. Those susceptible to these complications include the immunocompromised, elderly, young or pregnant individuals.
The flu vaccine is available in a single dose and it is recommended that you have this performed annually.
Hepatitis A Vaccination
Hepatitis A is a viral disease that can cause inflammation of the liver. It is transmitted between people when the unvaccinated person consumes food or water that has been contaminated with faeces of the infected individual. This type of infection is commonly associated with contaminated foods or water, poor overall sanitation, and poor personal hygiene.
The symptoms of this disease include fever, jaundice, lethargy, abdominal pain, pale stools, tea-colored urine, and a poor appetite. In even mild cases, it may take weeks to recover while severe cases cause liver failure or even lead to death.
The vaccination is available as a two-dose vaccine spaced over 5-12 months.
Hepatitis B Vaccination
This disease is also a viral infection of the liver that can be transmitted through blood, body fluids, transfusions, sexual contact, or mother to child during pregnancy or during delivery.
A person can have a mild condition that may last for weeks or experience severe liver failure. Unfortunately, some people who contract this illness will become lifelong carriers. The symptoms of Hepatitis B include fever, nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, tea-colored urine, pale stool, and jaundice. In a person who carries this disease, they may develop liver cirrhosis, failure, or even liver cancer over time.
Although the Hepatitis B vaccine is a part of the Singapore National Immunisation Schedule, it is possible to lose your protection over time. You can have a simple blood test performed to screen for your antibodies and determine if you need an additional vaccination. You may consult our doctors for more information on that.
The Hepatitis B vaccine comes in three doses, given initially, after one month, and six months.
There is also an option for Twinrix, which conveniently include vaccinations for both Hepatitis A and B. This is available in three doses, given initially, at one month, and six months.
The varicella zoster virus is responsible for causing both chicken pox and shingles. It is a highly contagious disease that can be spread through direct contact, air, and droplets. You may develop a fever, lethargy, cough, and cold symptoms along with itchy and painful rashes on your body. The disease tends to be fairly mild in children but will become serious with older adults and the very young.
The complications of this virus include pneumonia and a brain infection. For adults, they can experience a reactivation of this disease which will cause shingles. This is especially common in those with a lowered immune system. If you develop this during pregnancy, you may be at risk for congenital malformation.
For those that have had chicken pox before, they can have an antibody blood test to determine if it’s needed. You may speak to our doctors for more information.
The Varicella vaccination comes in two doses given over four weeks.
Tdap Vaccination (Bootrix)
This vaccination is a combination that protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis and whopping cough. This is usually provided to children as a part of the National Children Immunisation Programme. However, your antibody levels may be reduced over time, which causes susceptibility to the older generation who are more likely to develop any of these three infections.
This vaccination is provided as a single dose every 10 years. A single dose is always given during the third trimester of pregnancy or right after birth regardless of your vaccination history.
This vaccination protects against measles, mumps, and rubella viral diseases. This type of disease is easily spread via air droplets when coughing or sneezing.
This vaccination is recommended for the following people:
- Adults who did not receive the vaccination completely during their childhood
- Adults who are at high risk of developing these infections, such as healthcare workers, teachers, and international travelers to poorly vaccinated areas.
- Women who are not vaccinated before and planning to become pregnant. Please wait three months from their vaccination before becoming pregnant.
If you’re not sure of your previous vaccination history when it comes to MMR, an antibody test can be performed to assess if you are in need of this vaccine.
Some adults were not vaccinated during their childhood in fear that it might cause autism. However, this speculation is unfounded and it is a priority to be vaccinated regardless of age.
The MMR is available in two doses, given one month apart.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
This is a vaccine that will protect against a mosquito-born infection known as yellow fever. This disease is most common in Africa or Central and South America.
It can be spread between people with the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. You may develop a fever, headache, muscle, pain, vomiting, nausea, lethargy, and jaundice. Approximately 15% of the people who have yellow fever may also develop bleeding, organ failure, or even lead to death.
The yellow fever vaccine is recommended for the following people: People age 9 months and older who may travel to or live in a yellow fever endemic region.
This vaccine is available in a single dose and should be taken at least 10 days before entering an infected area. You may need to show proof that you’ve had this vaccine.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) 9-valent Vaccination
This is a vaccine that will protect against the HPV viral strain subtypes of 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58. This works to reduce the risk of developing the types of HPV that are associated with cervical, vulva, and vagina cancer. It also prevents genital warts.
The vaccine is recommended for all unvaccinated men and women between the ages of 9-26 years although anyone who is older and unvaccinated may still have some benefits. This vaccination was recently approved by US FDA for use in individuals from 27-45 years.
The HPV vaccination is available in three doses given initially, at two months, and six months.