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Measles Vaccination Challenges in India: A Growing Concern

Why is it in the news?

  • A recent report from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has highlighted a concerning increase in measles cases and deaths globally in 2022.
  • Compared to the previous year (2021), there was an 18% increase in measles cases and a significant 43% increase in deaths related to measles. This brings the estimated number of measles cases in 2022 to nine million, with approximately 1,36,000 deaths, and the majority of these cases and deaths occurring among
  • Is India lagging in measles vaccination


More about the news

  • The report also indicated that globally, 22 million children did not receive their first measles shot in 2022, with half of them living in 10 countries, including India.
  • In India, an estimated 1.1 million infants did not receive the first dose of the measles vaccine, which is a cause for concern.
  • India has a Universal Immunisation Programme, one of the largest public health programs globally, aiming to vaccinate around 2.67 crore newborns and 2.9 crore pregnant women annually.
  • However, the Union Health Ministry of India disputed the report’s claims, stating that the WHO data is based on estimates and does not reflect the actual situation in India.
  • According to the Health Ministry, out of the eligible 2,63,84,580 children in India, 2,63,63,270 received their first dose of the measles vaccine in FY 2022-23. They asserted that only 21,310 children missed their first dose in 2022-23, and efforts are underway to ensure that these children receive all the necessary measles vaccine doses.


About Measles

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that primarily spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 It typically starts with symptoms like a cough, runny nose, red eyes, and fever, followed by a characteristic rash of tiny, red spots that begins on the head and spreads across the body.



  • Measles vaccination has proven to be highly effective in preventing the disease, averting an estimated 56 million deaths between 2000 and 2021.
  • Despite the availability of a safe and cost-effective vaccine, there were still 1,28,000 measles-related deaths globally in 2021, primarily among unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children under the age of five.
  • However, in 2022, the global coverage of one dose of measles vaccine by a child’s first birthday dropped to 83%, the lowest since 2008.
  • COVID-19’s Impact on Measles Vaccination: The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted routine immunization programs worldwide, leaving millions of children vulnerable to preventable diseases like measles. In India, several regions experienced measles outbreaks, including Maharashtra and Kerala, due to interruptions in vaccination during and after the pandemic.


  • Historically, there have been instances where measles vaccination rates dropped significantly due to misinformation.
  • In the U.K. in 1998, a now-discredited study falsely linked the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism, leading to a decline in vaccination rates and subsequent outbreaks.
  • Similar declines in vaccination rates were seen in Europe and the U.S., resulting in measles resurgences.
  • While measles vaccination is highly effective, it is still possible for a vaccinated individual to contract the disease, although it is unlikely.
  • To determine if one is immune to measles, especially if unsure about vaccination history, a blood test can confirm immunity.
  • Adults who lack immunity are advised to receive at least one dose of the MMR vaccine.
  • Adult vaccination may be necessary in certain cases, particularly if childhood vaccinations were missed. It helps maintain immunity and prevents the spread of measles in the community.

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