ISSN: 2640-7590
Journal of Vaccines and Immunology
Mini Review       Open Access      Peer-Reviewed

Vaccination in India: An Insight

Avishek Das1 and Tapas Kumar Chaudhuri1,2*

1Cellular Immunology Laboratory, Department of Zoology, University of North Bengal, Siliguri, India
2Adjunct Professor, Department of Biotechnology, Brainware University, Kolkata, India
*Corresponding author: Tapas Kumar Chaudhuri, Adjunct Professor, Department of Biotechnology, Brainware University, Kolkata, India, E-mail:
Received: 19 October, 2020 | Accepted: 04 November, 2020 | Published: 06 November, 2020

Cite this as

Das A, Chaudhuri TK (2020) Vaccination in India: An Insight. J Vaccines Immunol 6(1): 028-031. DOI: 10.17352/jvi.000034

This review has documented the vaccination in India and the history of it with a view to know the directions of developing indigenous vaccines for expanding the benefit to the grass root level in this highly populated country. Expansion of smallpox vaccination, typhoid vaccine trial and setting up of vaccine institutes were witnessed in the early twentieth century in almost each state in India. A number of private vaccine manufacturers came up in the post independence period in India besides the establishment of BCG vaccine in National Institutes. Smallpox vaccination was continued till it was eradicated and the country became smallpox free in 1977. Universal Immunization Programme was launched in 1985 as a part of the expanded programme of immunization which was established in 1978.India has declared as the country of non-endemic for poliomyelitis in 2012. Therefore, the immunization efforts are guided by the experience of the past events for analyzing and developing vaccines in the present time.


Vaccination is one of the most cost effective interventions for the survival against several dreaded pathogens worldwide. It focuses on delivering for the benefit of the children and the pregnant women and the persons suffering from serious diseases [1]. The effectiveness of the vaccination against polio, measles, diphtheria and others in India and other countries are well documented since 1798 when it first discovered against small pox [1,2]. Survey reports suggested that only 61% of all children received the vaccine each year [3]. In India Universal immunization programme (UIP) and National Immunization programme have set to immunize of the population. The objective of the programme is to increase the immunization coverage to improve the quality of service and to achieve self sufficiency in vaccine production [4]. According to the district level household survey, total of 53.5% coverage was done during the year 2007-08 [4].


The main goal of vaccination or immunization is to eradicate the infections from our society [5]. Various research tools have been developed to eliminate effectively the disease causing agents and to increase the quality of the diagnosis. Small pox was reported first in Goa, India, in 1545 AD as a killer disease and referred as Indian plague [6]. The inoculation of mild disease in human may prevent the disease in future. Small pox affected almost all races in the human history and its eradication technique was also practiced in Eastern world [7]. In 1774, Benjamin Jesty of England inoculated the cowpox virus to his wife and children and developed the small pox vaccine. After few years, Edward Jenner, an English doctor investigated that mild cowpox virus develops mild disease but with no serious effect. However, this finding led him for the foundation of developing vaccine [7]. The credit for developing smallpox vaccine was given to Edward Jenner in 1796. It is really unfortunate that the original inventor Jesty did not publicize his findings in 1774 which was twenty two years earlier than Jenner Table 1.

Vaccination in indian perspective

Weather condition of Indian sub continent helps to multiply the growth of the agents of infectious diseases like measles, plague, hepatitis, and others. This continent is very large and thickly populated with 130 million people approximately. A large group of sections come under middle class and poor. Therefore, the socio- economic status is also very low among large group of people. Infectious pathogens are able to manifest diseases to create an epidemic situation. So, proper immunization has become mandatory to control the diseases.

In the early part of British - India, there was no certain policy for giving the vaccine to the people. Some migrant vaccinators travelled to the rural parts of India and vaccinated people sporadically. However, the percentage was very low at that time. The policy of vaccination was adopted in 1892 in India but in reality it was executed lately [9].

In 20th century, the outbreak of cholera and typhoid was a huge toll in India. In India during 1944-1945 the highest numbers of smallpox cases were reported. After the world war-II, the numbers of cases were diminished. Another crucial thing was that the typhoid vaccine trials were initiated in India [9-11].

After independence, a maximum number of smallpox cases found in India. Cholera and plague epidemics were also occurring but tuberculosis was perceived as a major cause of morbidity and mortality. At that time, the Govt. of India introduces BCG to eradicate the pulmonary tuberculosis [12]. Tuberculosis Campaign helped to extend BCG vaccination all over India [12]. In 1962 the National small pox eradication programme contributed a lot for the eradication of small pox from India [13].

In 1978, India launched National Immunization programme, called as Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) with the introduction of BCG, OPV, DPT and typhoid-paratyphoid vaccines [14,15]. But till 2011 Hepatitis-B is a most recent antigen that has been added for vaccination with six other vaccines in India [15].

Till date, India is now able to introduce various indigenous vaccines like rota virus, human papilloma virus etc. Japanese encephalitis vaccine is also developed in 2013 in India [9].

Japanese encephalitis vaccine was imported in India till the year 2012. Thereafter, a good number of Government Institutes like Department of Biotechnology, Department of Science and Technology (DST), Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), and Institutes such as National Institute of Immunology, All India Institute of Cholera and other Enteric Diseases, and All India Institute of Medical Sciences have started vaccine research and providing indigenous vaccine development [16]. A new conjugated typhoid vaccine was produced by the Indian manufacturer in 2008/2009 apart from Vi Polysaccharide vaccine [17].

ROTAVAC, rota virus vaccine based on an indigenous strain known as 116E, was manufactured and proved comparable to other rotavirus vaccines in 2014 [18]. This was the successful outcome of public-private partnership and called as ‘unique social innovation model’ [19]. Typbar-TCV, a typhoid conjugate fourth generation vaccine, has been launched in India in 2013 [20]. JENVAC, indigenous Japanese encephalitis (JE) vaccine, developed jointly by the National Institute of Virology, Indian Council of Medical Research and Bharat Biotech Ltd. in 2014 [21] Tables 2,3.

Vaccination in case of infectious disease

In India, vaccination coverage of BCG since 1985 under Universal Immunization programme was very good in the various part of the country except some of the eastern states. BCG vaccination was very effective in the early disease progression for healthy children but not in the case of malnourished children. In those childrens, in spite of BCG vaccination develops serious and fatal types of tuberculosis. The tuberculin anergy is mainly responsible for the disease progression [28,29].

Smallpox is a serious viral disease and vaccination against small pox was implemented in the year 1800s to mid 1900s. It causes a serious health problem in India in the past and now completely eradicated from India. In 1962 the National Smallpox Eradication Programme (NSEP) in India was launched with main objective of successful removal of small pox within few years from India. After the end of the 60s, the NSEP programme redirected towards surveillance. The staffs were assigned in different areas in the states and were divided into endemic and non-endemic areas where priority was given to endemic areas [8,12]. At the end of the 1970s, the NSEP programme completely eradicated the small pox from India [12].

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection was also identified as a major public health problem in India [31]. Hepatitis is 50 to 100 times more infectious than HIV infection [31]. Approximately 30% of the world’s populations have serological evidence of either current or past infections with hepatitis B virus. In 1994 and 1995, approximately 110138 and 110012 cases of patients with acute jaundice were reported to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare [32]. During the last few years, hepatitis B vaccine has become available in the private sector in urban areas of India as well. India falls under intermediate endemicity zone with the prevalence of 2–7%. That is average of 4% with a disease burden of about 50 million [32,33].


Indian sub continent was the home of emergence of the various diseases in the past. The climate pattern and the socio economic status of this country also boosted the emergence of various diseases. National immunization programme, Universal immunization programme were few of those strategies that Indian govt. implemented to diminish the spreading of the disease. These very effective programmes were lead to immunize the entire population of the country. But there are certain limitations for immunization programmes. The population of this country is very large and to immunize the entire population has become challenging for the officials and volunteers. It needs a complete plan for running the programme and making it successful for the entire country.

  1. World Health Organization (WHO) (2009) UNICEF, World Bank. State of the world's vaccines and immunization. 3rd ed. Geneva: WHO. Link:  
  2. Fenner F, Henderson DA, Arita I, Jezek Z, Ladnyi ID, et al. (1988) Smallpox and its eradication. Geneva: World Health Organization 369-371. Link:
  3. United Nations International Children’s Fund (2010) Coverage evaluation survey: all India report 2009. New Delhi: Government of India and UNICEF. Link:
  4. Universal Immunization Program (2012) Govt. of India. Link:
  5. Dowdle WR (1998) The principles of disease elimination and eradication. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 76: 22-25. Link:
  6. Wujastyk D (2001) A pious fraud: the Indian claims for pre-Jennerian. Smallpox vaccination. In: Jan Meulenbeld G, Wujastyk D, editors. Studies on Indian medical history. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers 121-154. Link:
  7. The College of Physicians of Philadelphia (2012) The history of vaccines. Link:
  8. National Immunization Programme (2020) Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Link:
  9. Lahariya C (2014) A brief history of vaccines & vaccination in India. Indian J of Med Res 139: 491-511. Link:
  10. Bhattacharya S, Harrison M, Worboys M (2006) Fractured states: Smallpox, public health and vaccination policy in British India, 1800-1947. Hyderabad: Orient Longman. Link:
  11. Kumar A (1998) Medicine and the Raj: British medical policy in India, 1835-1911. New Delhi (India): Sage Publications.
  12. Central TB  (2012) Division. Tuberculosis Control India. General of Health Services. Link:
  13. Basu RN (2006) Smallpox eradication: lessons learnt from a success story. Natl Med J India 19: 33-36. Link:
  14. Government of India (2005) Multi Year strategic Plan for Universal Immunization Program in India (2005-2010). New Delhi: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; 2005.
  15. Government of India (2005) Report of National Universal Immunization Program review 2004. New Delhi: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
  16. New Delhi (2011) Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. Government of India. National vaccine policy
  17. BioMed India (2012) Vi conjugate typhoid vaccine. Link:
  18. Bhandari N, Rongsen-Chandola T, Bavdekar A, John J, Antony K, et al. (2014) Efficacy of a monovalent human-bovine (116E) rotavirus vaccine in Indian infants: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Lancet 383: 2136-2143. Link:  
  19. Bhan MK, Glass RI, Ella KM, Bhandari N, Boslego J, et al. (2014) Team science and the creation of a novel rotavirus vaccine in India: a new framework for vaccine development. Lancet. Link:  
  20. Pilla V (2013) Delhi: Mint; 2013. Aug 27, Typhoid vaccine with longer immunity launched; p. 11.
  21. New Delhi: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India; 2014. Oct 4. Govt. of India. Press release from Press Information Bureau: Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad launches JE Vaccine (JENVAC) produced by NIV, ICMR and Bharat Biotech. Link:
  22. New Delhi: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; 2005. Government of India. Multi Year Strategic Plan for Universal Immunization Program in India (2005-2010).
  23. New Delhi (2004) Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India; 2005. Government of India. Report of National Universal Immunization Program review. Link:  
  24. Lahariya C, Subramanya BP, Sosler S (2013) An assessment of hepatitis B vaccine introduction in India: lessons for roll out and scale up of new vaccines in immunization programmes. Indian J Public Health 57: 8-14. Link:
  25. New Delhi: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; 2012. Government of India. National Review meeting of State Immunization officers. [Google Scholar]
  26. Gupta SK, Sosler S, Lahariya C (2012) Introduction of Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) as pentavalent (DPT-HepB-Hib) vaccine in two States of India. Indian Pediatr 49: 707-709.  Link:
  27. New Delhi: CBHI, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; 2012. Central Bureau of Health Intelligence. National Health Profile of India
  28. Lahariya C, Subramanya BP, Sosler S (2013) An assessment of hepatitis B vaccine introduction in India: lessons for roll out and scale up of new vaccines in immunization programmes. Indian J Public Health  57: 8-14. Link:
  29. Udani PM (1994) BCG vaccination in India and tuberculosis in children: newer facets. Indian J Pediatr 61: 451-462. Link:
  30. Khera A, Gupta A, Gogia H, Rao S (2012) India’s national immunization programme.
  31. Shepard CW, Simard EP, Finelli L, Fiore AE, Bell BP (2006) Hepatitis B virus infection: Epidemiology and vaccination. Epidemiol Rev 28: 112-125. Link:
  32. Verma R, Khanna P, Shankar Prinja S, Rajput M, Chawla S, et al. (2011) Hepatitis B vaccine in the national immunization schedule: A preventive step in India. Hum Vaccin 7: 1387-1388. Link:
  33. World Health Organization (2002) Prevention of Hepatitis B in India. Link:
© 2020 Das A, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.