As we mark World Immunisation Week, Dr Rajkumar Radhakrishnan, Consultant Paediatrician and Neonatologist, Gleneagles Global Health City, Chennai cautions that the primary series of vaccinations need to be continued alongside other important vaccines to prevent yet another vaccine preventable disease making its reappearance
The world has seen a lot of changes because of the coronavirus pandemic. One year ago during the first wave nobody could have predicted the amount of devastation that COVID-19 caused the world over. The suffering has been immense and the losses are unimaginable. This pandemic has tested the resources of the health care sector and health care personnel. The health care delivery systems were already fragile in many developing economies and the pandemic laid bare the deficiencies for everyone to see. But amidst all this, the world and India tried to adapt to new challenges and currently India is still trying to manufacture vaccines at a rapid pace during the second wave.
This time around we know more about the disease than what we knew one year ago. The vaccination campaign has started and is ongoing at a frenetic pace. Accordingly, hospital infrastructure has been ramped up significantly and also more health care personnel were/are being diverted to combat COVID-19. This also had a negative effect on people looking for treatment for their ailments like diabetes, cancer care and also vaccination for children for other deadly vaccine preventable diseases.
And with respect to COVID-19 vaccines, the fear and hesitancy can to some extent be attributed to the fear of the unknown. And also because of the unprecedented pace at which the vaccines were brought to the market which was hitherto not done so far.
Vaccine fear and hesitancy can be combated by having clear communication strategies through the mainstream media and social media. The message delivered by the medium should allay the public fear regarding the vaccine and its potential adverse effects. Local NGOs need to be roped in to develop public confidence in vaccines and also be made part of vaccine delivery.
The Indian government has recently granted emergency approval to vaccines manufactured abroad without bridging studies here which is not an ideal decision but a necessary one considering the gravity of challenge which lies ahead. And further vaccination drives should be taken forward considering the pace at which we manufacture and import vaccines.
It is perhaps imperative to allow the private sector to be an important partner in vaccine delivery as they already play an important role in delivering health care services in our country. And amidst all this, the primary series of vaccinations need to be continued alongside other important vaccines to prevent the re-emergence of deadly vaccine preventable diseases. The last thing we want during the post COVID-19 recovery phase is yet another vaccine preventable disease making its reappearance when we finally begin to step out of our homes.