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