April 24 to 30 – World Immunization Week
Immunization has over the years played a pivotal role in preventing epidemic/ pandemic diseases and has tremendously influenced public health. In India, the immunization program is majorly directed towards children with less than 5 years of age wherein mass vaccination programs have resulted in decline in vaccine-preventable childhood diseases. Like the pediatric population, adults are particularly vulnerable during outbreaks as the risk of infection increases with age, signs and symptoms (of infection) are more severe, lack of immunization (as there were some vaccines that were not available in childhood), and age-related factors like chronic conditions and immunosenescence wherein the immunity begins to fade over time. Despite the significant impact that vaccine preventable diseases can have on adult mortality and quality of life, the adult vaccination coverage is negligible as their benefits are not well recognized.
To raise awareness about the need for vaccination, the world immunization week is celebrated every year, in the last week of April (24th-30th April, 2023) with an aim to highlight the importance of vaccines and how they protect us from Vaccine preventable diseases thereby giving everyone an opportunity to live healthier, happier lives.
The COVID-19 pandemic had majorly disrupted the immunization services for over two years, making people vulnerable to infectious diseases. Therefore, under the banner of ‘The Big Catch-Up’, WHO is working with a wide range of partners (including Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and many more) to catch-up, restore and strengthen immunization services for children, adults – and their communities with an aim to reach millions of people missing out on the life-saving benefits of vaccines and stop outbreaks from accelerating.
Life-course immunization” has been adopted in many countries, as adult vaccination is an important contributor to healthy living. However, adult vaccination coverage in India is currently negligible due to a lack of national guidelines and perceived need. This failure to immunize adults – particularly those with chronic conditions – can leave them vulnerable to infection and at increased risk of complications. Improving adult vaccination coverage in India, particularly among older adults, could help to reduce the burden of disease among those with chronic conditions by reducing hospital admissions, health costs, and mortality rates, and improving quality of life.
Therefore, immunization is an essential health activity. By staying up to date on vaccination, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from preventable diseases.
– Dr Vijay Kumar Chennamchetty, Lead Interventional Pulmonologist & Sleep Disorder Specialist, Apollo Hospitals, Jubilee Hills