Reader's Digest (India) - - Contents -

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.

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