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World Immunization Week 2024 Observed on April 24 to 30

Every year, from April 24 to 30, the world celebrates World Immunization Week. This global campaign aims to raise awareness about the importance of vaccination and its role in protecting individuals, communities, and populations against preventable diseases. Vaccination campaigns have been instrumental in eradicating smallpox and nearly defeating polio, showcasing humanity’s remarkable achievements in the field of immunization.

Theme of World Immunization Week 2024

The theme for World Immunization Week 2024 is “Humanly Possible: Immunization for All.” This theme emphasizes the collective effort required to ensure that everyone, regardless of their circumstances, has access to life-saving vaccines. In contrast, the theme for 2023 was “The Big Catch-Up,” highlighting the need to catch up on missed vaccinations due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Origins and Celebrations

The World Health Assembly established World Immunization Week in 2012, and since then, it has been celebrated in more than 180 countries. Initially, vaccination campaigns were held at different times around the world, but now they are celebrated globally at the same time.

However, some regions have their own dedicated vaccination weeks:

  • European Vaccination Week is celebrated annually from April 21 to 27.
  • In India, National Child Immunization Week is observed from April 22 to 29.

The history of vaccination can be traced back to Edward Jenner’s invention of the vaccine in the 18th century, which laid the foundation for modern immunization practices.

Vaccination Challenges in India

Despite significant progress, India still faces challenges in ensuring universal vaccination coverage. While vaccination rates have reached 80% annually, approximately 20% of children remain unvaccinated. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the situation, leaving 30 lakh (3 million) children without vaccination during 2020 and 2021.

According to a UNICEF report, ‘The State of the World’s Children 2023: For Every Child, Vaccination,’ 27 lakh (2.7 million) children in India have not received a single vaccine. This is not just an issue in India; the World Health Organization reports that the number of children deprived of vaccination worldwide increased by 5 million between 2019 and 2021.

Importance of Vaccination

Vaccination is the most effective protective shield for children against deadly diseases and strengthens their immune systems. With a history spanning more than a century, vaccination has played a crucial role in safeguarding children’s health.

In India, the government launched Mission Indradhanush in 2014 to promote universal vaccination. Under this initiative, children aged 0-5 years receive vaccines for diseases such as BCG, polio, pneumococcal conjugate, hepatitis B, rotavirus, measles, rubella, Japanese encephalitis, diphtheria, and tetanus.

Vaccination has increased by 18.5% due to Mission Indradhanush, contributing to the eradication of polio in 2014 and maternal-newborn tetanus in 2015.

India’s Vaccine Manufacturing Capacity

India’s vaccine manufacturing capacity was showcased during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the world witnessed the country’s ability to produce vaccines at a large scale. India has been a leading producer of vaccines for diseases like measles, BCG, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DPT) for a long time. The World Health Organization estimates that 70% of children worldwide receive Indian-made vaccines.

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