Indian Immunization Programme

Immunization is the process of producing immunity or resistance to certain infectious diseases by administering vaccines. Vaccines are highly recommended to protect individuals and society from harmful viruses.

Immunization is the process of producing immunity or resistance to certain infectious diseases by administering vaccines. Edward Jenner, who invented the vaccine, is the ‘Father of Immunology’ and is considered a medical field hero. He developed the vaccine for cowpox to replace the dangers of smallpox and helped completely eradicate the latter. Hence he is credited with having saved more lives than any other human. He once said- “I hope that someday the practice of producing cowpox in human beings will spread over the world - when that day comes, there will be no more smallpox”, this has been true since the last naturally occurring smallpox case was reported in 1977.

Various Vaccines by UIP

For the first time in India in 1978, The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India introduced the immunization programme as the ‘Expanded Programme of Immunization’ (EPI). Later in the year 1985, it was modified as the ‘Universal Immunization Programme’ (UIP). The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare provides several vaccines to infants, children and pregnant women.

The vaccines provided under UIP can be tabulated as follows:

For Infants and Children

Age Vaccine
At birth BCG, Hepatitis B, OPV-0
6 weeks OPV-1, Pentavalent-1, RVV-1, fIPV-1
10 weeks OPV-2, Pentavalent-2, RVV-2
14 weeks OPV-3, Pentavalent-3, fIPV-2, RVV-3
9-12 months MR-1
16-24 months MR-2, DPT-Booster-1, OPV-Booster
5-6 years DPT-Booster-2
10 years Td
16 years Td

BCG - Bacillus Calmette Guerin
OPV - Oral Polio Vaccine
RVV - Rotavirus Vaccine
fIPV - Fractional Dose of Inactivated Polio Vaccine
MR - Measles & Rubella
DPT - Diphtheria, Pertussis & Tetanus
TD - Tetanus & Adult Diptheria

For Pregnant Women

Time Vaccine
Early in pregnancy Td-1
4 weeks after Td-1 Td-2
If both Td is received during pregnancy in the last 3 years Td- Booster

Along with the vaccines mentioned above, Vitamin A dose is also provided to the children. The first dose is at nine months, along with the MR vaccine. The latter doses are supplied at 16-18 months for infants, then after every six months up to the age of five. In some selected states like Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh (selected districts) and Rajasthan, there is the provision of PCV vaccine (PCV - Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine). This vaccine is provided to the infant in 2 dosages. One at the age of 6 weeks and the other at 14 weeks. In a few endemic districts, the JE vaccine is also provided (JE- Japanese Encephalitis). It is also a two-dosage vaccine, one at 9-12 months and the other at 16-24 months.

The Type of Delivery

Not all vaccines are injected; a few, like the polio vaccine, are orally given. The vaccines administered to the body can be intramuscular, intradermal and subcutaneous. The virus is at times live- attenuated and ultimately killed like in the case of the JE vaccine, whereas in some, the virus is killed and then injected.

Different vaccines are provided at various sites in the body. Most of them are injected in the upper arm region, whereas some vaccines like Hepatitis-B are injected in the anterolateral side of the mid-thigh. Injecting in the mid-thigh area optimizes the immunogenicity of the vaccine and minimizes adverse reactions at the injection site. Some vaccines, if administered into the subcutaneous fat layer, may fail.

Aftermath of Vaccine Administration

Although vaccines are in the continuous monitoring phase; any vaccine can cause side effects. The effect may be different for each individual. Most effects are minor, like sore arms and fever, and go away in a few days. There are specific adverse effects of a few vaccines. There can be side effects like headache, respiratory tract infection, nausea, abdominal pain, joint pain etc. Some severe side effects like blood in the stool, pneumonia, and inflammation of the stomach and intestine are also seen in administering certain vaccines. Currently, there is a very remote chance of any vaccine causing severe allergies or death. But deciding not to immunize a child/ any person also involves risk and could put them and others who come into contact with them at risk of contracting a potentially deadly disease. Thus, vaccines are highly recommended to protect individuals and society from these harmful viruses.

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