Vaccination protects children
against preventable diseases such as diphtheria, hepatitis B, measles, mumps,
polio, tetanus and rotavirus, among others. According to World Health
Organization (WHO), vaccination prevents 2 to 3 million infant deaths globally
However, WHO says that around
21.8 million infants worldwide still miss out on basic vaccination, out of
which, 9 million infants, more than one-third, live in WHO's South-East Asia
Region: India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal,
Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Thailand, Korea and Timor-Leste. About 40 million children are
born in this
region every year, but only 75% of them get
immunization against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus.
Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia,
on World Immunization Week 2015 (April 24 -30)
said that these grim statistics emphasize the need to strengthen our
efforts to protect children with complete
"We must close these immunization
gaps. The tactics from major public health wins, especially the polio
eradication program, must be adopted to ensure equity with routine immunization
vaccines," she said.
She asked South Asian Countries
to take measures to increase vaccination coverage by strengthening their health
systems. "Vaccine delivery must be linked to other health interventions to
increase vaccination coverage. You should address poor management of health
systems, inadequate monitoring and supervision of immunization programs, and
also low awareness level among parents about immunization," Dr. Singh said.
She notes that collective efforts
are necessary between government, partner agencies, health professionals and
academia, civil society, private sector and media. "Vaccination is a shared
responsibility, and also a cost-effective health intervention. The collective effort should be
steered by strong political will backed with
resources. Ensuring complete vaccination is the only way to prevent
unnecessary deaths from preventable diseases," she added.
There are still too many cases
where pregnant mothers and infants are not given tetanus shots. WHO aims to
reduce this number substantially from the South-East Asia region by the end of
2015. In fact, the goal is to eliminate measles, rubella and congenital rubella
(CRS) by 2020.
In the polio eradication program,
WHO plans to increase polio immunization coverage to more than 90% at the
national level and more than 80% at the district level in all the countries in
the Southeast region.
Five Reasons to Vaccinate
- Vaccination can save your
child's life. Your child can be protected against more diseases because of the
recent advances in immunology.
- Some babies may not be vaccinated due to allergies,
weakened immune systems or other medical reasons. To keep them safe, the
children who are able to get vaccinated should be immunized fully. This helps
prevent the spread of diseases to those who are weak or unhealthy.
is very safe and effective. Vaccines are only approved after a long and careful
review by scientists and healthcare professionals. It may cause pain at the
site of injection but this is minimal.
can save money. Some vaccine-preventable diseases can develop into chronic
illnesses that have no cure, and often require lifelong medication and
protects future generations. Vaccines have eliminated many diseases like