National Vaccination Day is celebrated by the Government of India every year on the 16th day of March to mark the importance of vaccinations. First observed on March 16, 1995; the day commemorated the launch of the Pulse Polio Program aimed at eradicating polio by administering the first doses of the Polio vaccine. Polio drops are given to millions of children under five years of age every year. It has been a highly successful program because polio-endemic remains a few sparse cases in only two countries – Afghanistan and Pakistan. (1)
As per the WHO (World Health Organisation), vaccination is the tool to control and eliminate deadly infectious diseases and thus avoid death tolls summing up to 2 million every year. An estimate of 18.7 million children still is devoid of the essential vaccines. World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended National Immunization Day as one of the four strategies to eradicate polio. In India, the vaccines administered are IPV (passive polio vaccine) and OPV (oral polio vaccine). India succeeded in eradicating polio in 2012 and was declared polio-free in March 2014. (2)
Covid-19 Immunization Program
In 2021, the National Vaccination Day earmarked another milestone for another major cause; when our country started the most extensive Covid-19 immunization Program. The numbers are overwhelming. As of 12 January 2022, the vaccination coverage in India has crossed the 153 crores 70 lakhs mark, and over two crores 81 lakhs vaccine doses administered to children between 15 to 18 years of age. (3)
The recent National Immunisation Day in 2021 gained significance due to the commencement of critical campaigns for a healthy nation:
- Commencement of the Covid-19 Immunization Program in 2021
- Launch of Mission Indradhanush under the Universal Immunisation Program (UIP) in December 2014 aimed towards the immunization coverage of all children, especially those who had not been vaccinated or partially vaccinated until 2020.
- Launch of the Sharp Mission or Intensified Mission Indradhanush 2.0 in 2019, aimed at increasing the impact of the Immunisation Program launched in 2014 and a goal to immunize children under two years and pregnant women.
- The Intensified Indradhanush aimed to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, with SDG 3.2.1 stating, “The proposed SDG target for child mortality seeks to end, by 2030, preventable deaths of newborns and children under five years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least 12 deaths per 1,000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least 25 deaths per 1,000 live births” (4)
As per the National Health Programme statistics, about 172 million children are immunized during each National Immunization Day.
With famous slogans such as ‘Do Boond Zindagi ki ‘, ‘Spare the children, give the vaccine ‘, the vaccines are administered free of cost at Government Hospitals, Government Healthcare and community centres. Indeed, it is a challenging program with far-reaching and proven results. The theme suggests that Vaccines bring us closer and the belief that a healthy nation is a productive nation; important days as National Immunisation Day advocate just that. They are the Nation’s pride and priority.
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