Immunization drive to widen vaccination net

New Delhi, April 29 (IANS) The government Monday launched special “immunization weeks” to widen its vaccination net and include children in marginalised populations, urban slums and other hard-to-reach places.

“Four weeks, with a week each in April, June, July and August, will be used to hold special immunisation sessions in high-risk areas across the country,” said Anuradha Gupta, additional secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and mission director, National Rural Health Mission.

Close to 75 lakh children every year miss childhood vaccinations. A majority of them are from among underserved and marginalised populations. Globally, every fifth child is unimmunized.

“The Special Immunization Week is an opportunity to reinforce India’s call to action for child survival and development,” Gupta said, launching a new communication campaign attended by the media, development partners, and health officials here.

The new communication campaign includes a new logo, TV spot, radio spot and posters.

“The new logo and other communication material will promote consistent messaging to raise awareness on the urgency of reaching every child with life-saving immunization,” Gupta added.

She encouraged her state counterparts and development partners to focus on ensuring that vaccines that are provided free under the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) and reach every last child in the country.

Louis-Georges Arsenault, UNICEF India Representative said: “In India, inequity persists within and between states. There are geographical, rural-urban, poor-rich, gender and other related differences in vaccination coverage. Disparities need to be addressed to reach every last child. The special immunization week is an opportunity for all of us to renew focus on ensuring equity in immunization coverage.”

“The special immunization week lays sufficient importance on generating awareness about immunization and to reach marginalised populations in brick kilns, urban slums and other hard-to-reach areas. Engagement with media and other key stakeholders have been planned and will be continued in the following weeks,” said Ajay Khera, deputy commissioner, Child Health and Immunization.

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