International Journal of Community Medicine and Public Health
Vol 7, No 11 (2020) November 2020
Vaccine hesitancy in India-the challenges: a review
Gopalakrishnan S., Sujitha P.
Immunization is the most cost-effective scientific method of reducing childhood morbidity and mortality. In India the national immunization programme has not been able to attain complete coverage of the eligible children and hence mortality due to vaccine preventable diseases is approximately 5 lakhs annually. Every year, 89 lakhs children are at risk to develop vaccine preventable diseases due to lack of immunization. While most people vaccinate according to the recommended schedule, this success is challenged by individuals and groups who delay, hesitant or refuse vaccines due to various reasons. Despite the realization of compulsory scheduling of vaccines, there are an alarming number of parents who do not permit the vaccination of their children as scheduled. Vaccine hesitancy refers to a delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite the availability of vaccination services. WHO in 2019 listed vaccine hesitancy as one of the ten global health threats. The recent vaccination coverage evaluation studies have shown that there is a perceptible drop in the vaccine coverage in most parts of India and also that the disparity in the urban-rural coverage is also widening. Hence an evaluation of the reasons for vaccine hesitancy is vital at present to strengthen the universal immunization program. The authors are trying to trace the present status and reasons for vaccine hesitancy reported in recent times, which can lead to outbreaks of already controlled vaccine preventable diseases and to identify strategies which are being implemented to overcome the vaccine hesitancy.