by Dr. Mohd Sarfaraz Nawaz, MBBS,MD, Consultant Pediatrician & Neonatologist, Aster Prime Hospitals, Ameerpet, Hyderabad
Immunization is the process whereby a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease, typically by the administration of a vaccine. Immunization helps protect the child from life threatening diseases. It also helps reduce the spread of disease to others. Vaccines stimulate the body’s own immune system to protect the person against subsequent infection or disease.
Babies are born with some natural immunity which they get from their mother through breast-feeding. This immunity gradually diminishes as the baby’s own immune system starts to develop. Immunization is one of the most cost-effective health investments and vaccination does not require any major lifestyle change.
Why is Vaccination compulsory for babies in India?
We live in a medically advanced world, but still potentially dangerous diseases are present around us. In order to fight these diseases or keep ourselves protected, it is always recommended to get oneself vaccinated or immunized.
Immunization in India allows people to lead a healthy life by protecting them from the danger of specific diseases. While you get vaccinated, a certain breed of viruses or bacteria is administered, so that your body may develop immunity against those particular micro organisms. In this way, when the same set of bacteria or viruses enter your system, your immune system will knows how to protect your body.
In India, there is a series of vaccines that are recommended for a new born baby to protect him or her from the potential danger of certain serious ailments. With its citizen-friendly immunization policies, the Indian Government has made the vaccines available at quite a low prices (some are even available for free) in the government run hospitals.
Following are the health issues that are targeted by the immunization in India:
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis A
- Gastroenteritis (rotavirus)
Here’s the list of the vaccines that are recommended for the babies in India:
- BCG or Bacillus Calmette Guerin Vaccine
- OPV or Oral Polio Vaccine
- DPT Vaccine
- MMR (Measles Mumps Rubella) Vaccine
- Hepatitis B Vaccine
Our extremely efficient immunization policies have made immunization available for the babies throughout the nation, which has helped in giving India a healthy tomorrow.
Status of Immunisation in India
IMMUNIZATION India has one of the world’s largest immunization programs in the world. With lot of efforts, a large number of previously unvaccinated children have now been immunized. However, many challenges persist and need our attention. Full immunization coverage among children 12-23 months continues to be low at 62%.
According WHO, Immunization status of monitored children of age between 12-23 months several reasons are said to be reasons for missing vaccination in India. The following are –
- Awareness and Information Gap – 35%
- AEFI Apprehension – 26%
- Operational Gap – 12%
- Child Travelling – 13%
- Refusal – 8%
- Others – 6%
Timely Vaccination Is the Key to Good Health
Good health is important as it is the key to a good life, and, good nutrition is the key to a healthy lifestyle. If a person is healthy, he will have a strong working heart, muscles, bones and social life too. In India, around 8 in 10 people are suffering from health issues. The root of good health and healthy living is timely immunization to children and would be mothers and most of the people are either unaware of this or are not capable enough to have vaccinations properly and on time.
Dealing with Adverse Effects
However, like other medicinal products, there could be adverse reactions with vaccine(s), too. Some common minor adverse events following immunization are local reactions, pain at injection site and fever. Apprehension due to such Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) has been identified as one of the main causes for drop-outs in children especially after vaccinations with pentavalent or DPT containing vaccines.
It’s Important to have Awareness
Finally it is very clear that lack of awareness is the major reason for not getting immunisation in time by children. As stated above 35% of children are not given variety of vaccines due to information gap and around 8% are refusing to get vaccinated due to lack of proper understanding.
Hence awareness becomes paramount in the success of India’s Vaccination Program. Awareness among parents irrespective of their status, religion, caste etc is said to be key for providing health for all.