New Delhi: Ignorance and fear of adverse effects are among the main reasons why parents don't get their children vaccinated under the government's immunisation programme.
A monitoring exercise from April 2016 to January 2017, which covered over one lakh children below the age of two years who missed out on vaccination, revealed that one-third of them could not get vaccinated because their parents did not consider it important.
"In some cases parents were not aware of the place where the vaccination was being carried out while in some instances they were busy with some other work.
"Also, when a child is born, parents are given an immunisation card to keep track of the vaccines. In some cases, they claimed to have lost or misplaced the cards," said Dr Pradeep Haldar, Deputy Commissioner (immunisation) in the Ministry of Health.
Haldar said some even perceive vaccination as interference by the government into what they believe should be a personal choice, indicating that they do not understand its value.
Another one-third did not receive vaccination as their families feared adverse effects like fever, irritability, soreness and swelling at the injection point.
"All these side effects are minor and subside within a couple of days," the official said.
As per the report, 14 per cent of the children missed out as they were not in their village the day the exercise was carried out while in the case of another five per cent, the parents simply refused to get their child vaccinated.
Ten per cent were not vaccinated due to a gap in the programme, which means the session was not carried out on the scheduled date due to non-availability of vaccines or human resources.
"We estimate that around 30 per cent children miss the benefits of full immunisation every year. That means an estimated 89 lakh children across the country either get only a few vaccines or no vaccines at all.
"One out of every three children in India does not receive all vaccines that are available under the routine immunisation," Haldar said.
Annually, about 12 lakh children die before they attain the age of five.
Despite several interventions to strengthen routine immunisation since 1978, estimates show that in 2014, only 65 per cent of the children received all vaccines, available free of cost under the universal immunisation programme, during their first years of life.
The government launched 'Mission Indradhanush' in December 2014, which aims to cover all those children by 2020 who are either unvaccinated, or are partially vaccinated against eleven vaccine-preventable diseases which include diphtheria, tuberculosis, tetanus, polio, measles and hepatitis B.
During the first three phases, 28.7 lakh immunisation sessions were held in which more than 2.1 crore children were reached out to and 55 lakh of them were fully immunised.