About 2 to 3 million deaths from diseases like pneumonia, diarrhoea, measles, and diphtheria are averted annually due to vaccinations. They are universally recognised as among the most cost-effective public health interventions. They are an established harm reduction strategy. Although the overall prevalence of complete vaccine refusal is <2%, the same may lead to preventable diseases in an individual. There is thus a need to create awareness about the importance of this method in the country.
The first-ever conference on harm reduction organised focused on vaccination. It discussed how the aim should be to eradicate a disease and if not, then reduce the burden in the society. Withholding vaccines from a child or an adult because of a hypothetical risk places them at risk for real infection that may have real sequelae.
Mission Indradhanush, depicting seven colours of the rainbow, targets to immunize all children against seven vaccine preventable diseases — Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Childhood Tuberculosis, Polio, Hepatitis B and Measles. In addition to this, vaccines for Japanese Encephalitis and Hemophilus influenzae type B are also being provided in selected States. There are also vaccinations for adults.
- WHO has listed vaccine hesitancy as one of the 10 threats to global health in 2019. Vaccine hesitancy should be addressed on priority at every level.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine protects from HPV infection, a major cause of cervical cancer.