Vaccination in India
On one hand, India is one of the leading producers and exporters., of vaccines in the world, and on the other around one-third of the of world’s unimmunized children live in this country. Statistics reveal that less than 45 percent of India’s newborns are given the full vaccination programme. Why this paradox?
The main causes can be attributed to meagre investment by the government, vaccination focal point being only on polio eradication and little attention to other immunizations, and low demand in the rural areas due to a poor education and fear of side effects.
The situation deteriorated due to the death of seven girls amongst thousands of girls aged between nine and fifteen who were given cervical cancer vaccine for observation studies. Many teenage girls were hospitalized with symptoms that were a result of an adverse reaction to the administered vaccine.
Poor education levels in the rural areas is another cause for individuals not completing the vaccination schedules. Minor side effects of vaccination trigger outcry in the rural areas and act as a barrier in administering subsequent vaccines. Often the news of other minor illness following immunization, those not related to the vaccine, spread quickly and contributes to a culture hostile to vaccination.
Better awareness programs highlighting the deadly effects of diseases, their permanent impact on an individual’s lifestyle and how vaccines are the most suitable prevention are on the rise. These programmes will greatly increase faith in vaccines and see a steady growth in parents completing the immunization programmes for their children.