‘Vaccines require constant cold-chain system or they lose potency, say members of medical fraternity

Senior members of the medical fraternity expressed serious concern at the maintenance of the cold-chain system and potency of the various vaccines meant for infants and pregnant mothers, in the wake of the uncertain power supply and transportation bandh due to Samaikhyandra agitation.

As per the schedule, the paramedical staff, attached to various clusters under the Public Health Centres, administer vaccinations to the infants and expectant mothers at their doorsteps in villages on Wednesdays and Saturdays. They procure the vaccinations from the Ice-lined Refrigerators (ILRs) at the PHCs. After carefully placing them in the vaccine carriers, with balanced temperature, the staff members visit the villages under the jurisdiction of each PHC. In the evenings, the vaccine carriers are brought back to the PHCs and kept back at the ILRs, which are constantly supplied with power. In the absence of power, the temperature is to be maintained through inverters and generators.

Since the beginning of the public movement against the bifurcation, the paramedical staff, not only at the PHCs but and also at the field level, are hit by the severe transportation problem. Transport at the rural side has almost come to a grinding halt.

In this backdrop, the paramedical staff, after procuring the vaccines and finishing their duties, instead of depositing the vaccine back in the ILRs, are keeping them in normal refrigerators at their homes for weeks together, tampering with the temperature parameters.

The vaccines, supplied to the hospitals as part of drive to curb infant-mortality rate, require constant cold-chain system. In case of any imbalance in the cold levels, the potency of the vaccines comes down, and even the parameters will totally vanish if neglected for long.

False impression

Administering impotent drugs may not cause any reactions to the infants or mothers, but it leaves the target groups under the false impression that they are protected by the vaccination. In reality, the infants are directly exposed to the grave dangers of polio, tetanus and resistance to various life-threatening diseases, absolutely without their knowledge.

Senior officials of the medical and health wing, on condition of anonymity, observe that the district administration should come out with emergency transport modes and cold-chain maintenance facility for the vaccines in view of the ongoing agitation.