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Key Facts about Vaccination, Immunisation and how vaccines work?

Shikha Goyal

According to the Union Health Ministry's provisional report, more than 2.99 crore people have been vaccinated for COVID-19 in India so far. On the 58th day (14 March) of the immunisation drive, around 140,880 beneficiaries were vaccinated as per the ministry. 

On 16 January, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a nationwide Vaccination drive with the healthcare workers at the frontline of India's COVID-19 battle getting their first dose.

In the country, the second phase of vaccination drive also begun in which everyone above 60 years of age and those over 45 years with comorbidities will be able to get the vaccine.

The National Vaccination Day is also known as the National Immunisation Day is observed on 16 March to highlight the importance of vaccination to the entire country according to the Financial Express.

What is Vaccination?

As per WHO, It is a simple, safe, and effective way of protecting people against harmful diseases, before they come in contact with them.

The vaccine uses the natural defenses of the body to build resistance to specific infections and make the immune system stronger. It helps the immune system of the body to create antibodies just as it does when it is exposed to a disease. 

It is to be noted here that vaccine contains only killed or weakened forms of germs like viruses or bacteria and so they do not cause the disease or put you at risk of its complications. Most of the vaccines are given by injection but some are given orally (by mouth) or sprayed into the nose.

Importance of Vaccination

As we know that vaccination is a safe and effective way to prevent diseases and save lives. Vaccines are available nowadays to prevent us from several diseases including diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza, and measles. After getting the vaccine we are not only protecting ourselves but also those around us. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccination continues to be critically important. 

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How does a vaccine work?

As discussed above vaccine reduce the risk of getting a disease as it makes the immune system stronger or works with the natural defenses of the body to build protection. When a person gets a vaccine then his or her immune system responds. It:

- Notices the invading germ like the virus or bacteria. 

- Produces antibodies. Antibodies are proteins and are produced naturally by the immune system to fight disease. 

­- Remembers of the disease and how to fight it. If a person is exposed to a germ in the future then the immune system will quickly destroy it before becoming unwell.

Therefore, a vaccine is safe and a clever way to produce an immune response in the body without causing illness. 

Note: Immune system is designed to remember that is once exposed to one or more doses of a vaccine, we remain protected against a disease for years, decades, or even a lifetime. 

National Vaccination Schemes adopted by the Indian Government

Universal Immunisation Programme

In 1978, an expanded programme on Immunisation was launched. It was renamed as Universal Immunisation Programme in 1985. In 1992, it became part of the Child Survival and Safe Motherhood Programme and it was included in the ambit of the National Reproductive and Child Health Programme in 1997.

In 2005, National Rural Health Mission was launched and since then the Universal Immunisation Programme has always been an integral part of it.

Immunization is providing free of cost against 12 vaccine-preventable diseases under the Universal Immunisation Programme.

Nationally against 9 diseases - Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Polio, Measles, Rubella, a severe form of Childhood Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and Meningitis & Pneumonia caused by Hemophilus Influenza type B

Sub-nationally against 3 diseases - Rotavirus diarrhoea, Pneumococcal Pneumonia, and Japanese Encephalitis; of which Rotavirus vaccine and Pneumococcal Conjugate vaccine are in process of expansion while JE vaccine is provided only in endemic districts.

Mission Indradhanush

In December 2014, Mission Indradhanush was launched. The objective of the mission is to increase the full immunisation coverage to children to 90%. Under this mission, the focus is given on pockets of low immunisation coverage and hard to reach areas where the proportion of unvaccinated and partially vaccinated children is highest. 

Across the country, a total of 6 phases of this mission have been completed that cover 554 districts. It was also identified as one of the flagship schemes under Gram Swaraj Abhiyan and Extended Gram Swaraj Abhiyan.

Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN) rollout:

The Indian Government has rolled out an Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN) system to digitalize the entire vaccine stock management, their logistics, and temperature tracking at all levels of vaccine storage from national to the sub-district.

This will help the programme managers to have a real-time view of the vaccine stock position and their storage temperature across all the cold chain points. It also provides a detailed overview of the vaccine cold chain logistics system across the entire country.

In the first phase, eVIN system has been completed in 12 states namely Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Odisha, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.

The second phase is ongoing in 9 states – Andhra Pradesh, Daman & Diu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, Tripura, and Uttarakhand. It is to be scaled up to the entire country. 

Source: who,

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