SAN­CHITA SHARMA

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - HTMETRO -

Ru­mours and bla­tant fab­ri­ca­tions about side ef­fects of vac­ci­na­tion spread faster than the com­mon cold, lead­ing to mis­placed fears and re­fusal to get vac­ci­nated, which is among the most cost-ef­fec­tive ways of pre­vent­ing dis­ease and death. Vac­ci­na­tion pre­vents 2-3 mil­lion deaths world­wide each year, and an ad­di­tional 1.5 mil­lion lives would be saved if ev­ery­one got vac­ci­nated, ac­cord­ing to World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Vac­ci­nat­ing at least 95% of the pop­u­la­tion builds com­mu­nity im­mu­nity and pro­tects even those who have missed vac­ci­na­tion and re­main sus­cep­ti­ble to in­fec­tion. Mass vac­ci­na­tion led to the global erad­i­ca­tion of small­pox in 1979, with the last case re­ported in So­ma­lia in 1977. Caused by the var­i­ola virus, small­pox was a dev­as­tat­ing dis­ease that in­fected at least 50 mil­lion peo­ple a year glob­ally in the 1950s and killed an es­ti­mated 300 mil­lion in the 20th cen­tury, com­pared to the 100 mil­lion who died in wars and armed con­flict dur­ing the same pe­riod.

In­dia was de­clared free of small­pox two years after the last indige­nous case was re­ported in Bi­har’s Kati­har on July 5, 1975. Mass vac­ci­na­tion cam­paigns made erad­i­ca­tion pos­si­ble within a year of small­pox dev­as­tat­ing Bi­har, Odisha and West Ben­gal in 1974, when In­dia recorded at least 61,000 cases and 15,000 deaths. The global po­lio erad­i­ca­tion ef­forts best ex­em­plify vac­ci­na­tion’s hits and misses. In­dia got po­lio cases down from 741 in 2009 – the high­est in the world — to one within a year, with the last case was con­firmed in Ben­gal on Jan­uary 13, 2011. Gaps in vac­ci­na­tion has left po­lio per­sist­ing in Pak­istan and

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