Essential Programme on Immunization

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The year 2024 commemorates 50 years since the launch of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1974 which is now known as the Essential Programme on Immunization.

About Essential Programme on Immunization: 

  • It was launched as the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) by World Health Organisation in 1974 to ensure that all children, in all countries, benefited from life-saving vaccines.
  • This programme has evolved into what is now commonly known as the Essential Programme on Immunization.
  • Disease covered (Total 13)
    • Initially this programme focused on protection against six childhood vaccine-preventable diseases namely Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, and measles.
    • Later on WHO added 7 more disease under this initiative Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib), Hepatitis B (HepB), rubella, pneumococcal disease (PNC), rotavirus (Rota), human papillomavirus (HPV), and COVID-19 (for adults).

India’s Universal Immunization Programme (UIP)

  • India launched the EPI in 1978, which was later renamed as the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) in 1985. 
  • Objectives:
    • To rapidly increase immunization coverage.
    • To improve the quality of services.
    • To establish a reliable cold chain system to the health facility level.
    • Monitoring of performance.
    • To achieve self-sufficiency in vaccine production.
  • Eligibility:
    • All beneficiaries’ namely pregnant women and children can get themselves vaccinated at the nearest Government/Private health facility or at an immunization session site (Anganwadicentres/ other identified sites) near to their village/urban locality on fixed days.
    • The UIP covers all sections of the society across the country with the same high quality vaccines.
  • Under UIP, immunization is providing free of cost against 12 vaccine preventable diseases
  • Nationally against 9 diseases - Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Polio, Measles, Rubella, severe form of Childhood Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and Meningitis & Pneumonia caused by Hemophilus Influenza type B
  • Sub-nationally against 3 diseases - Rotavirus diarrhoea, Pneumococcal Pneumonia and Japanese Encephalitis; of which Rotavirus vaccine and Pneumococcal Conjugate vaccine are in process of expansion while JE vaccine is provided only in endemic districts.

Q1: What is Immunization?

It is a process by which a person becomes protected against a disease through vaccination. This term is often used interchangeably with vaccination or inoculation.

Source: Make EPI an ‘Essential Programme on Immunisation’