Pune: Around 45 per cent children from urban areas in Maharashtra are not completely vaccinated, as per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4), quashing the notion that only rural children need special emphasis on getting vaccinated.
The age from 12 to 23 months is considered a critical period in a child’s development and immunity-building process and if not immunised on time, the child can face severe health issues later in life, said paediatricians from the city.
Currently, vaccination is provided to protect children against seven life-threatening diseases in India: Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Polio, Tuberculosis, Measles and Hepatitis B.
Speaking to Sakal Times, Dr Sanjay Lalwani, President of Pune chapter of the Indian Academy of Paediatricians, said that in addition to enhancing the infrastructure for providing better immunisation services, efforts should be made to address vulnerable households within urban settlements via community-based outreach programmes.
“Families which are economically challenged and are not literate often skip the immunization of their children. It is important to address these families. If due importance of vaccination is explained to them and the burden that the child may pay in terms of his physical well-being, the families would not hesitate,” said Dr Lalwani.
Commenting on the government initiative, he said the efforts are good but not enough. “Everyone today can be reached on their phones. A system of notifying the parents should be made. Or a system where the child is tracked across states about his immunisation which can fully assure good health for the child,” said Dr Lalwani.
Echoing similar sentiments, Dr Shruti Jadhav, Consultant Pediatrics at Columbia Asia Hospital, Pune said the timing of the vaccination plays a fundamental role in a child’s life. “In order to ensure that the child develops immunity for a given disease at the correct age, it is essential to provide him vaccination during 12 to 23 months of age. Non-adherence to timely vaccination continues to be one of the leading reasons for high infant mortality rate in our State,” said Dr Jadhav.
Immunisations in Maharashtra
*55.8%: Children are fully immunised in urban areas.
*56.7%: Children fully immunised in rural areas.
*56.3%: Total percentage of children fully immunised in the State.
*58.8%: Children of this age group were fully immunised in 2005-06 (NFHS-3)
(Statistics for children in 12-23 months age group)
(Source: National Family Health Survey-4 for 2015-2016)
More about vaccination
- Immunisation is the process of fortifying a child’s immune system against attacks by foreign antibodies.
- Vaccines contain the same antigens that cause diseases but they are either killed or weakened to the point that they don’t actually cause the disease.
- Vaccination helps the child develop immunity without suffering from the actual diseases.