Immunization coverage in Tamil Nadu must increase from 89.2% to 90%; more focus is needed in urban areas

Chennai; 13 May 2022: Children are exposed to an innumerable number of germs, some of which can cause serious diseases. A child’s immune system is still developing, and it cannot fight against all deadly diseases.  According to the World Health Organization, immunization is one of the most successful public health interventions to prevent deaths from infections such as diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), and tetanus in all age groups.[i] The 6 in 1 combination vaccination protects children from 6 serious illnesses: diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, haemophilus influenza type B, hepatitis B, and poliomyelitis.

Speaking about this, Dr. S. Balasubramanian, Senior Consultant in Pediatrics & IAP IDC Fellowship Coordinator, Kanchi Kamakoti CHILDS Trust Hospital, said, “Combination vaccination is very useful in many ways. It reduces the number of injections for the child, the number of visits to the clinic for parents, improves compliance with the vaccination schedule, and makes it easy for both parents and the doctor to complete the schedule. It is a boon for parents. After the introduction of the combination vaccination, I have observed that fewer parents miss out on the vaccinations recommended for their child.”

According to the immunization schedule of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics[ii], children would need to take the DTP-IPV-Hib-HepB vaccines at the age of 6, 10 and 14 weeks. 6-in-1 vaccination provides protection for these 6 diseases. 6 in 1 vaccination would mean that children take only 2 injections (i.e., 6 in 1 vaccination and pneumococcal vaccination) and 1 oral vaccine (rotavirus vaccination) on each of these occasions. Without the combination shot, children would have to take many more injections.

In recent years, India has intensified its efforts to increase immunization coverage in the country, which has resulted in significant improvement as shown by the National Family Health Survey – NFHS-5.  The percentage of children aged 12 to 23 months who are fully vaccinated* has increased from 62% (NFHS-4; 2015-16) to 76.4% (NFHS-5; 2019-21) in India and from 69.7% to 89.2% in Tamil Nadu. A recent study[iii] has also demonstrated that there has been a marked improvement in immunization coverage in rural areas, but limited improvement in urban areas.

More needs to be done to make parents aware of the benefits of immunization and the availability of vaccines, to increase full immunization coverage to 90% and beyond. With combination vaccinations, children receive fewer shots but get the same level of protection as they would have with separate vaccines.