World Immunisation Week is observed in the last week of April, every year, with an aim to highlight the collective action required to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against diseases. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), which is observing the day with the theme ‘Long Life for All’ this year, “The ultimate goal of World Immunisation Week is for more people – and their communities – to be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.”
It is widely known that timely vaccination is of utmost importance to prevent many diseases and infections. During the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the need for getting vaccinated has only multiplied. Apart from Covid-19 vaccines, there has been a stress on getting children immunised to protect them from deadly diseases such as polio, tetanus, hepatitis and diphtheria among others.
“Only 65 per cent of children in India receive full immunisation during the first year of their life. Despite clear evidence around the power of vaccines to save lives and control disease, millions of young children around the world are missing out, putting them and their communities at risk of disease and deadly outbreaks,” United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) noted.
Explaining the significance of vaccination during childhood, Dr Meena J, Consultant, Paediatrics and Neonatology, Aakash Healthcare, Dwarka said that it is the only mode which prevents dreadful diseases and is given in early childhood. “History has also taught us that vaccination is very important as it helps in eradicating a lot of dangerous diseases like smallpox and polio,” she said.
Dr Meena highlighted that childhood vaccines help children fight diseases later on in life too. “The current pandemic has shown us the importance of vaccines and children are being immunised since childhood for long. Due to vaccination, their immunity gets more activated and they can fight against dreadful diseases.”
Some essential childhood vaccines
Further, the expert listed some of the most essential vaccines for children.
*BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guerin) vaccine for tuberculosis, oral polio vaccine, and hepatitis B vaccine.
*Other vaccine-preventable diseases include diphtheria, tetanus, rotavirus, pertussis and pneumococcal.
*In infancy, children are given missals, rubella vaccines and typhoid vaccines.
*In some endemic areas, children are vaccinated for Japanese encephalitis and meningitis.
*There are special vaccines for conditions such as influenza, meningococcal and rabies.