The advent of vaccines is a godsend for humanity. Millions of lives are saved each day, thanks to vaccines. But to ensure that these scientific miracles do their work, it is important to follow a disciplined schedule.
Are you looking for information on the state of immunization in India? If yes, then we have all that you need to know about child vaccination schedule in India, right here.
What is Immunization?
Immunization refers to the process of providing protection to humans or animals from a certain disease. A person or animal can become immunized against a disease in two ways – either through a manufactured vaccine or after naturally contracting and recovering from a certain disease.
A vaccine is a scientifically developed product that creates immunity from a disease. It can be given through an injection or as oral drops and even other ways such as aerosol. 
[ Read: Immunization Chart For Children ]
Importance of Immunization:
Vaccines work with the body’s natural defense system to develop immunity against a disease in a safe manner. Vaccines cause no illness. Immunization with vaccines is a safe way to protect your child from deadly infections and diseases. 
Vaccines are safe but like all medical products, they can also produce certain side effects like fever or a rash. Therefore, it is important to obtain proper information on all vaccines before their use. 
[ Read: Common Vaccines for children ]
Immunization Program in India:
Universal Immunization Program (UIP) is a scheme by the Government of India. Initially under this program, the government provided vaccines for seven diseases. These diseases are polio, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, measles, hepatitis B, and childhood tuberculosis. 
UIP began in 1985 and since then has expanded routine immunization (RI) across all Indian states. UIP also introduces new vaccines in the country’s immunization program. The government of India often collaborates with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to develop and constantly improve its immunization program and to expand its reach to all parts of the country. 
[ Read: Polio Vaccine Schedule For Children ]
Immunization Schedule for Children in India:
The National Immunization Schedule (NIS) in India covers schemes under the UIP along with RI and supplementary immunizations. 
The UIP immunization schedule for seven vaccine-preventable diseases include:
1. BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin):
- Protection from tuberculosis
- One dose given at birth (can be given up to 1 year if not administered at birth)
2. DPT (Diphtheria, Pertussis, and Tetanus Toxoid):
- Protection from diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus
- Total five doses; primary doses (3) at weeks 6, 10, 14, 1st booster dose at the age of 16 to 24 months, 2nd booster dose between the age of 5 to 6 years
3. OPV (Oral Polio Vaccine):
- Protection from poliomyelitis
- Oral vaccine, five doses; birth dose (for all institutional deliveries), primary doses (3) at weeks 6, 10, 14, a booster dose (1) between 16 to 24 months
4. Hepatitis B:
- Protection from hepatitis B
- Four doses; birth dose (for all institutional deliveries) within 24 hours of birth and three doses at weeks 6, 10, 14
- Protection from measles
- Two doses; 1st dose between the ages of 9 to 12 months, 2nd between the ages of 16 to 24 months
6. TT (Tetanus Toxoid):
- Protection from tetanus
- Two doses, 1st dose at age 10 and 2nd dose at age 16
- A pregnant woman too requires TT vaccination. Normally there are two doses of the TT vaccine. But if a woman has received a dose within the last three years, then only one dose is necessary
[ Read: Hepatitis A Vaccine For Children ]
7. Japanese Encephalitis (JE):
- Protects from Japanese encephalitis (brain fever)
- Two doses, 1st dose at ages 9 to 12 months, 2nd dose at ages 16 to 24 months.
Between the years 2006 and 2010, the government of India introduced the JE vaccine in around 112 districts with cases of the infection (endemic). The government is in the process of bringing more districts under this program. The JE vaccine is a part of UIP in some states.
The JE virus is active in most parts of Asia. The virus is transmitted through mosquito bites. Incidences of JE are highest in some states such as Assam, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, West Bengal, Goa, and Karnataka. Since 2013, India has been manufacturing JE vaccines locally. 
Some vaccines are not part of the UIP. But the Indian government routinely introduces new vaccines in its RI/UIP program. Talk to your child’s doctor about any vaccines, not under UIP in your state but still recommended for protection against vaccine-preventable diseases.  
One such vaccine is for Hib (Haemophilus influenza type b bacterium) diseases. It is part of UIP in some states. It is a pentavalent (5 vaccines in 1 conjugated form) vaccine. If Hib vaccine is not a part of UIP in your state, ask your child’s doctor about it and administer it to your child as recommended. Most doctors recommend its use. Here is the best vaccination chart for children in India that are followed by most of the Doctor’s.
Hib (administered in combination with DPT+Hep B)
- Protects from Hib pneumonia and Hib meningitis
- 3 doses given at weeks 6, 10, 14
As of 2014, the Indian government has given its nod to add vaccines for rotaviral and rubella (German measles) along with a new injectable vaccine for polio in the UIP.
Also ask the doctor about the following list of vaccinations for children in India:
1. Hepatitis A:
- Protects from hepatitis A
- One dose for children under 13 years, two doses for older children with an interval of 4 to 8 week, the 1st dose given after 15 months of age
- Protects from chickenpox
- Two doses at an interval of 6 to 12 months; given after 15 months of age
3. Rota Viral:
- Protects from acute gastroenteritis
- 2 or 3 doses depending on the vaccine brand with an interval of 4 to 8 weeks
4. Pneumococcal Conjugate:
- Protects from pneumonia, meningitis, bacteremia
- Primary doses (3) at week 6, 10, 14, one booster dose between 15 to 18 months.
- Protects from mumps, measles, rubella
- Two doses, 1st at 12 to 15 months, 2nd at ages 4 to 6 years. But it can be given eight weeks after the first do
For your child’s immunization, follow the doctor-recommended schedule. You can always ask about vaccines not included in UIP such as for flu, typhoid and others.
Better safe than sorry. Nowhere is this more evident than with the use of vaccines!
Talk to your doctor today!
Have you immunized your child for diseases that are not under the UIP? Do you think vaccines are necessary for kids? Please share your views in the comments section.
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