Infants not fully immunized vulnerable to deadly infectious diseases

Jaipur, 23rd January 2019.

Children aged between 12 and 23 months in the capital may face increased risk of contracting infectious diseases as more than a third of them are not fully immunized, receiving the vaccines for BCG, measles, and 3 doses each of polio, and DPT. With 58.2 per cent children fully immunized, those outside the vaccination coverage are at an increased risk of contracting deadly infectious diseases including tuberculosis, measles, and polio.

Immunization makes a child immune or resistant to an infectious disease, typically by the administration of a vaccine within 5 years after birth in a phased manner. Vaccines stimulate the body’s own immune system to protect the person against subsequent infection or disease.

“The children who were not immunized face an increased risk and may paveway for wider prevalence of infectious diseases. They are also likely to die at a very young age. Immunization is a dependable tool that controls and eliminates life-threatening infectious diseases and preventsan estimated 2 to 3 million deaths annually. It is one of the most cost-effective health investments, with proven strategies that allow its access to the most remote and vulnerable populations. With clearly defined target groups, immunization can be delivered effectively through outreach activities, and vaccination does not require any major lifestyle change,” says Dr. Satyen K HemrajaniHOD & Senior Consultant – Neonatology, Fortis La Femme Jaipur.

Doctors say that an evenly-targeted immunization programme has ability to effectively reduce the burden of vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs) and contribute to achieve the Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG4) targets as specified by the United Nations. “Not maintaining optimum rates of immunization hampers “herd immunity” and the diseases that vaccines prevent may return. These diseases may spread in spite of better hygiene, sanitation and clean water. Diseases that we do not hear much of now, such as pertussis (whooping cough), polio and measles, may quickly reappear if we fail to immunize our children against VPDs,” says Dr. Satyen K Hemrajani.

Infants receive their first dose ofa BCG vaccine that saves them from TB, a vaccine against polio and hepatitis B vaccine at birth. Subsequent Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) can be administered at 6, 10, and 14th week, up to the age of 5 years along with pentavalent and rotavirus vaccines that can be administered till the age of one year. The vaccines for measles and Japanese encephalitis are given between 9- and 12-months age.

‘Mission Indradhanush’ was introduced in India in 2014 that aims to receive full immunization coverage of 90 per cent and sustain the same by year 2020. The scheme delivers vaccination against eight diseases across the country, such as Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Polio, Measles, severe form of childhood Tuberculosis, and Hepatitis B and Meningitis and Pneumonia caused by Haemophilus influenza type B as well as Rotavirus Diarrhoea, and Japanese Encephalitis.

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