From 24th April to 30th April 2023, World Immunization Week was celebrated globally with the theme “The Big Catch-Up”. This initiative aimed to vaccinate every eligible child and pregnant woman against vaccine-preventable diseases and to catch up on any missed vaccinations.

In Himachal Pradesh, the Universal Immunization program provided vaccines for 11 preventable diseases to children up to the age of 16 and pregnant women during this week. Various Information, Education and Communication (IEC) activities and vaccination camps were conducted throughout the state to educate the masses and catch up on any missed vaccinations. High-risk areas such as slums, migratory populations, labour camps, and temporary settlements were given special attention.

The State Government organized several vaccination sessions during the week, vaccinating around 600 children throughout the state. Himachal Pradesh has an estimated birth cohort of about 1 lakh children and 1.20 lakh pregnant women who are vaccinated through the 390 cold chain points and 44000 vaccination sessions annually. This year, the state focused on eliminating measles and rubella and started extensive vaccination and surveillance.

Dr. Gopal Berry, Director Health Services, briefed that this was the world’s largest vaccination program, providing free vaccines to children up to the age of 16 and pregnant mothers. The program also provided information on routine vaccination and the third dose of fractional IPV. The third dose of Fractional IPV was given to children of 9 months along with the Measles-Rubella (MR) vaccine in the ninth month.

Dr. Berry emphasized that vaccination is essential for the health of children and that eliminating misconceptions related to vaccination is crucial. Vaccines are entirely safe and are the most significant protection shield for children, strengthening their immunity. The government provided all vaccines free of cost to children. Children must receive the Hepatitis B, Polio, and BCG dose at birth, and if BCG is not applied, it must be applied with the vaccination dose at 6 weeks. BCG vaccine for one year and five drops of Rotavirus must be given in the 6th, 10th, and 14th week. It is vital to regularly educate the public about vaccinations.