Immunization is the process whereby a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease, typically by the administration of a vaccine. Immunization helps protect the child from life threatening diseases. It also helps reduce the spread of disease to others. Vaccines stimulate the body’s own immune system to protect the person against subsequent infection or disease. Babies are born with some natural immunity which they get from their mother through breast-feeding. This immunity gradually diminishes as the baby's own immune system starts to develop. Immunization is one of the most cost-effective health investments and vaccination does not require any major lifestyle change. There are two main types of immunisation, active immunisation and passive immunisation.
Both types of immunisation prepare the body to fight against certain diseases.
Active immunization is when a substance, known as a "vaccine", is introduced into the body to encourage the body's immune system to produce antibodies against a particular disease.
Passive immunization means when a person is given antibodies prepared outside. When these antibodies are given to a person, antibodies help prevent or fight infectious disease agent or toxin. However, the protection offered by passive immunization is short-lived, usually lasting only a few weeks or months, but it helps to protect immediately in cases carrying high risk of infection.
Both the immunization should be given under medical supervision only.
According to WHO, Immunization is a proven tool for controlling and eliminating life-threatening infectious diseases and is estimated to avert between 2 and 3 million deaths each year but an estimated 18.7 million infants worldwide are still missing out on basic vaccines.
Every year in India, 5 lakh children die due to vaccine-preventable diseases and another 89 lakh children remain at risk, because they are either unimmunized or partially immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases. Partially immunized and unimmunized children are most susceptible to childhood diseases and are at a much higher risk of dying as compared to fully immunized children. While Routine Immunization has played a significant role in preventing childhood deaths and disability, thousands of children in India continue to die from vaccine preventable diseases each year.
India has one of the largest Universal Immunization Programs (UIP) in the world in terms of the quantities of vaccines used, number of beneficiaries covered, geographical spread and human resources involved. Despite being operational for over 30 years, UIP has been able to fully immunize only 65% children in the first year of their life and the increase in coverage has stagnated. To achieve full immunization coverage for all children, the Government of India launched Mission Indradhanush in December 2014.The first round of Mission Indradhanush was flagged off on 7th April 2015 across all 28 States and Union Territories. The second phase was recently launched on 7th October 2015.The ultimate goal of this program is to ensure full immunization with all available vaccines for children up to two years and pregnant women. Under this programme, all vaccines are available free of cost.
What is Vaccination?
Vaccination is the process of giving a vaccine for protection against serious diseases by stimulating the immune system against disease germs.
What is the difference between Vaccination and Immunization?
The process of giving a vaccine is called Vaccination while the entire process beginning from giving vaccines to the development of body’s protective response is called Immunization.
What is a vaccine?
A vaccine is a biological preparation that improves immunity to a particular disease. A vaccine typically contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism, and is often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe, its toxins or one of its surface proteins.
What is the impact of immunization on disease transmission?
Individual immunization protects only the person vaccinated from the disease. However, if a large number of susceptible individuals are immunized against a disease in the community it is possible to control the spread of the disease. Persons who have been immunized serve as a protective barrier for other individuals who have not been immunized. It was possible to eradicate the disease with the help of immunization (e.g. small pox vaccination). Few more vaccine preventable diseases are being targeted for eradication (poliomyelitis), elimination (Maternal and Neonatal tetanus) or reduction in deaths (measles).
What are vaccine preventable diseases?
Vaccines are now available to prevent certain diseases. In most cases if a potent vaccine is given correctly, that is at appropriate time, dosage and technique; it can prevent the disease from occurring in a vaccinated individual despite his exposure to the disease. Diseases for which an active vaccine has been made and is available for use are known as a Vaccine Preventable Disease (VPDs).
If the babies get antibodies from mother, why is it important to give immunization?
The antibodies received from mother do not last long, leaving the infant vulnerable to disease. Moreover, immunization gives extra protection against deadly diseases.
How and where can a child be immunized?
A child can be immunized in a nearby government health centre. Vaccinations are also provided by the private hospitals and private doctors.
How much does it cost?
Immunization is free of cost in government hospitals against the vaccine preventable diseases under the Universal Immunization Program (UIP).
What diseases do vaccines prevent?
In our country, under the UIP, vaccines are provided against 7 life threatening diseases i.e. Tuberculosis, Poliomyelitis, Hepatitis B, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus and Measles. In few selected states and districts, vaccines are also provided against Haemophilus influenzae type B and Japanese Encephalitis.
What is immunization schedule?
A number of immunizations are required in the first few years to protect the child against different diseases. They need to be administered in different doses. It is therefore necessary to undergo a detailed immunization schedule.
Are there any reasons to delay immunization?
There are very few medical reasons (contra indications) to delay immunization:
Is immunization 100% effective?
There is no guarantee that if you are immunized you won’t get the disease, but immunization reduces the probability of your child acquiring the disease.
My kid is healthy, active and eats well. Is it necessary to go for immunization?
Vaccination provides a shield against the disease before it develops. If you wait to get vaccinated after the disease, it might get too late. Prevention is better than cure.
Are there any side effects of vaccines?
Vaccines are mostly safe. Only some individuals may develop side effects such as swelling, redness or a minor fever. These side effects last only for a couple of days.
How do we know that vaccines are safe?
Vaccines like all other medications undergo extensive and rigorous tests regarding their safety. Only after they have been found to be safe, they are introduced to public for general vaccination programs.
Can my child receive vaccination even if he has missed a few doses?
Definitely yes, even if your child has missed a few vaccinations, it is still advisable to follow the immunization schedule.
Universal Immunization Program (UIP):
India has one of the largest Universal Immunization Programs (UIP) in the world in terms of the quantities of vaccines used, number of beneficiaries covered, geographical spread and human resources involved. Universal Immunization program was launched in 1985 and was started with these objectives:
Under the UIP, all vaccines are given free of cost to the beneficiaries as per the National Immunization Schedule. All beneficiaries’ namely pregnant women and children can get themselves vaccinated at the nearest Government/Private health facility or at an Anganwadi centres. The UIP covers all sections of the society across the country with the same high quality vaccines.