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What Vaccines Do I Need?

Discuss with your doctor which of the following vaccines are suitable for you!

Shingles vaccine

Shingles is the reactivation of a previous ‘chicken pox infection’. After the chicken pox infection, the virus stays in our body for the rest of our life. The re-activation of the virus (shingles) occurs when the body immunity drops e.g due to malnourishment or uncontrolled diabetes.

People who are aged 60 and above are at higher risk. Despite the common belief that it is deadly, shingles does not often kill. However, 1 in 5 people who recover from shingles may suffer long-term pain. The long-term pain may cause severe discomfort and may sometimes be disabling.

A single dose is required to reduce the risk of shingles and more importantly, chronic pain after the shingles recovers.

Pneumococcal vaccine

Lung and urinary tract infections are the usual sites of infections in the elderly. Lung infection can be caused by either bacteria or virus.

The most common bacteria causing pneumonia is Pneumococcus. Pneumococcal infection does not only  result in severe pneumonia, but it also  lead to severe infection of the blood stream (bacteremia) and the covering of the brain (meningitis).

Serious lung infections are deadly for people with underlying lung disease like chronic obstructive airway disease (COAD). Pneumococcal disease death is one of the most vaccine-preventable diseases and only  a single dose is required to reduce the risk of severe pneumococcal disease.

Influenza (flu) vaccine

You mayneed to get a yearly shot to protect yourself and avert spreading it to your love ones.

The commonest virus causing pneumonia is influenza. Influenza is a seasonal disease and may lead to severe pneumonia and even death. People at risk are the elderly and those with underlying lung disease like chronic obstructive airway disease (COAD).

The influenza virus is able to change its form making it immune to the current available vaccine. Therefore,  to provide you with up-to-date protection, yearly flu vaccination using the latest flu strain for that year is required.

Tetanus, vaccine

Tetanus infection is obtained through skin cuts. Accidents happen and minor skin injuries are common.

If infected with tetanus, it may lead to a very painful death.

Most death from tetanus involves the older adults. Discuss with your doctor to see if you require tetanus booster injections if you have not had one for the past ten years.

Other vaccines which you may require under certain special circumstances such as travelling or pilgrimage will require further discussion with your own health care provider.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/downloads/f_imz_oldadults_pr.pdf (accessed 12 April 2013).

  2. Fact sheet for immunisation providers. Influenza vaccination 2010. http://www.immunise.health.gov.au (accessed 25 April 2013).


Last Review : 29 November 2013
Writer : Dr. Cheah Wee Kooi