“Doctor, why should I give MR vaccine to my child when you have already given MMR by routine Immunization schedule?”
This has been a persistent question asked by parents in the last one month.
It’s a testimony to the efforts put in by the government, schools and paediatricians alike; that there is so much awareness about the recently launched MR campaign.
While earlier the same question used to be asked during the Pulse Polio campaign, the only thing which has changed about the question is that “Polio drops” has been replaced by “naya wala kuch MR vaccine.”
This brings us to the key question.
What is the difference between the vaccines in the routine vaccination schedule we take and the ones which come in the mass immunization drives?
To understand this, first we have to know a key concept called “herd effect.”
“Herd Effect is the reduction of disease in the unimmunized segment as a result of immunizing a proportion of the population.”
So basically, it means that if a significant proportion of individuals in a community are vaccinated against a disease, it will protect those few children who are not vaccinated in that community.
This is the key benefit of mass immunization. It provides herd effect.
This is especially beneficial in a culturally and geographically diverse country like India, where a certain population gets dropped out from vaccination because of multiple reasons like misconceptions or feasibility; in spite of best efforts put in by the government and grass root level health workers.
This is the population which gets protected during the mass immunization programmes because of herd effect.
At the same time, it boosts the immunity of children who are already vaccinated as per routine immunization schedule.
So the vaccination schedule which is followed for each child, whether in government set-ups or in the private, are for an individual child’s protection. This should be followed meticulously to protect the child on an individual level.
And we should participate in mass immunization campaigns like Pulse Polio or MR vaccine campaign to provide immunity to the community as a whole.
To conclude, mass immunization and routine immunization are both sides of the same coin. One protects at the individual level while the other at a community level. Active participation in both is necessary to defeat the scourge of vaccine preventable diseases.
“Be wise, Vaccine-wise, Immunize.”
IAP Guidebook on Immunization 2013-14.