India shows significant results in immunization, reveals WHO and UNICEF data

New Delhi (India), July 21: Post Covid-19, India has achieved significant results through successful social mobilization and strategic communication in tackling vaccine hesitancy and boosting confidence in promoting importance of immunization.

 According to data published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, in 2022, 20.5 million children missed out on one or more vaccines delivered through routine immunization services, compared to 24.4 million children in 2021. In spite of this improvement, the number remains higher than the 18.4 million children who missed out in 2019 before pandemic-related disruptions, underscoring the need for ongoing catch-up, recovery and system-strengthening efforts.

Of the 73 countries that recorded substantial declines* in coverage during the pandemic, 15 recovered to pre-pandemic levels, 24 are on route to recovery and, most concerningly, 34 have stagnated or continued declining. These concerning trends echo patterns seen in other health metrics. Countries must ensure they are accelerating catch-up, recovery, and strengthening efforts, to reach every child with the vaccines they need and – because routine immunization is a fundamental pillar of primary healthcare – take the opportunity to make progress in other, related health sectors.

In the Indian context, as revealed by the latest WUENIC report, in 2022, India has successfully reduced the number of zero-dose children to 1.1 million from 2.7 million in 2021, covering an additional 1.6 million children with lifesaving vaccination. The country’s commitment, investment, and consistent efforts to vaccinate children have yielded significant results.

“The progress in routine immunization coverage brings promise of healthy life for children in India. It shows the dividends of the government’s evidence-based catch-up campaigns and an effective primary health care and immunization structure that helped India recover from the pandemic-induced backslides in 2020-2021. The Government of India’s commitment also contributed to a leap forward by further reducing the zero-dose children to 1.1 million. Efforts such as the fourth Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) and India’s consistent provision of comprehensive Primary Health Care services are enabling this progress,” said Cynthia McCaffrey, UNICEF India Representative.

In the UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children (SOWC) 2023 report, India was recognized as one of the countries with the highest vaccine confidence. This recognition serves as evidence of India’s effective social mobilization and strategic communication efforts, which have been instrumental in countering vaccine hesitancy and fostering trust in the importance of immunization.