Millions of Indian kids at risk of preventable diseases.
It’s the 21st century, but Indian kids are still not getting their shots right. Since the 1970s, a lot of progress has been made in preventing diseases like polio, diphtheria and whooping cough thanks to vaccines. In fact the biggest success was the global eradication of smallpox by 1980. Great strides have recently been made in polio-eradication as well.
The basic vaccines have been against TB, measles, polio and a combined one called DTP against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. All babies ought to get three DTP doses before their first birthday. Yet 32 percent of Indian children don’t, and at least a third of all children who die of measles are Indian.
Incompletely vaccinated children are susceptible to all these diseases, or death due to them. Babies getting incomplete vaccination, or none at all, result from several factors: no access to medical services, parental ignorance about immunization, even the fear of a parent losing daily wages. All these are typical situations in developing countries. So where does India stand?
As many as 39 percent of Indian children are incompletely vaccinated. (The corresponding figure for China is just one percent.) Indeed, India now has the worst record in this area! This leaves millions of Indian children at risk, and communities vulnerable to preventable-disease outbreaks. As a Digest reader, if you know of any child in your area who has been incompletely vaccinated, please inform the parents and help them out.
All children must get basic vaccines.