When the pandemic began to spread its tentacles in the months of March-April this year, among several concerns, it was also feared that the immunization process in India might take a hit. Since the health infrastructure concentrated its energy in managing the pandemic and the country went into lockdown, those fears were real.
Business Standard back in April reported, “India’s infant immunisation drive comes to a halt over Covid-19 fear”. Later, it was also reported that “WHO and UNICEF warn of a decline in vaccinations during COVID-19”.
Nevertheless, it is now evident that India, like it handled many other fronts well amidst the pandemic, also ensured that the immunization process didn’t take backseat. A reply in the Rajya Sabha gives the picture, wherein, though the immunisation took a backseat initially, India did well to make up for the halt in the subsequent months.
India’s Immunization Amidst Pandemic
As per Health Management Information System 37,49,939 children were fully immunized in rural areas from April- June 2020 whereas 46,75,437 children have been fully immunized in rural areas during same period last year.
While the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare agreed that the utilization of immunization services slowed down at the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020, it also explained how the coverage has improved subsequently because of a series of measures.
Primarily, the administration concentrated on two fronts. Constant communications and guidelines to States and UTs, and ensuring the vaccination supply so that the authorities should not neglect immunization citing the pandemic situation.
After each immunization session, due list of beneficiaries is prepared to track and trace individuals who have missed their regular vaccine including individuals who have missed vaccination due to COVID-19 pandemic.
All these have helped India to keep pace of immunisation amidst pandemic almost to the pace of previous year.