Immunization Gap Widens: 11 Lakh Indian Children Missed Measles Vaccine in 2022

Immunization Gap Widens: 11 Lakh Indian Children Missed Measles Vaccine in 2022

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released a new report on global immunization coverage in 2022. The report found that an estimated 33 million children worldwide missed either the first or second dose of the measles-rubella vaccine.

India is among the 10 countries with the highest number of children who did not receive the first dose of the measles vaccine in 2022. The country is also among the 37 countries that experienced large or disruptive measles outbreaks in 2022, reporting 40,967 cases.

The decline in immunization coverage is due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted routine immunization services in many countries. In India, the government has launched an Intensified Mission Indradhanush campaign to reach children who missed out on measles-rubella vaccines.

The report also found that only half of countries have reached the target for measles surveillance sensitivity. India is one of the few countries that has a sensitivity that is three to four folds better than the global target.

Despite the challenges, India has made significant progress in recent years in reducing measles cases. In 2022, there were at least 13 measles-related deaths in Maharashtra. However, the government’s outbreak response immunization drive has vaccinated 13 lakh children in the affected states and their neighbors.

Dr N K Arora, head of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), said that the outbreak can be considered a blessing in disguise. “It ensured that children in the region are naturally immunised and the government has given shots to those living around,” he said.

The report highlights the importance of continued efforts to improve immunization coverage and surveillance in order to eliminate measles and other preventable diseases.