Immunization is an integral aspect in our day to day activities in our organization and as such we take issues of immunization earnestly as we believe immunosenescence, also known as age-related decline in immunity, significantly contributes to the susceptibility of older adults, vaccine-preventable conditions, including influenza, pneumonia and shingles. Patients often believe that by living a healthy lifestyle, they can avoid illnesses and diseases. While exercising, getting recommended screenings and eating right are important for staying healthy; they alone do not prevent older adults from acquiring vaccine-preventable diseases.A common factor that increases susceptibility to many illnesses, regardless of health status,is age. Vaccination is an effective tool to address this biological inevitability. Immune function wanes in all adults–adults whether healthy or sick–as they age into their fifth decade and beyond. Their bodies become less adept at recognizing and stopping pathogens and ability to develop and maintain immunity declines. For adults who feel and generally are healthy, it can be difficult to accept and/or recognize that these processes are occurring and the significance of these changes.
This is an important consideration when counselling older adults about the need for vaccination. Vaccines mimic a natural infection and trigger an immune reaction that teaches the body to recognize and fend off future infections of the same type. They build immunity against new infections and they can sometimes boost protection later in life to thwart the effects of waning immunity. Vaccines are an effective way of stimulating and heightening immune responses and boosting waning immunity in older adults. Yet adult vaccines remain significantly under utilized. With a growing portion of the population in Zambia living into their 80s,90s understanding the ageing immune system is becoming increasingly important for today’s healthcare professional, hence our well-intentioned determination to join and participate in the Vaccines4Life network.
It is in light of the above context that Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias In Zambia -ADDIZ makes a clarion call to Vaccines4life to share and exchange as much information and knowledge on immunization and vaccination because many underlying conditions that affect older people require vaccines to cure. As an aged-related organization Vaccines4life aligns very well with our mandate.