Measles Rubella vaccination drive to cover 1.8 crore children

The State government is looking at administering the Measles Rubella (MR) vaccine to 1.8 crore children between the ages of 9 months and 15 years from February 6 to 28.

The programme, which is being implemented as per the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’s recommendation, is seeking to eliminate both the viruses from circulation in the community. The vaccine is to be introduced in a phased manner in all States — Tamil Nadu is part of the first phase.

At a sensitisation event on Friday where senior health officials from across the State participated, Director of Public Health K. Kolandaisamy explained that even though cases of measles had drastically reduced — from about 10,000 in 1985 to 536 last year — the introduction of the MR vaccine is expected to further bring down cases.

Rubella, which is caused by an infection of the Toga virus, while clinically less severe than measles, could cause spontaneous abortions, stillbirths or congenital anomalies including cataracts, glaucoma, deafness and cardiac defects, if contracted during early pregnancy.

“While we do not have the exact number of congenital rubella syndrome cases in the State, we believe it is a sizeable public health problem,” he said.

Together with the vaccine campaign, a congenital rubella syndrome surveillance programme will also be introduced, he said. As the virus is known to circulate in the system of children till about the age of 15, immunising boys and girls simultaneously will help ensure the virus eventually disappears in the community, he said. Following the programme, the department is expecting a 50 per cent reduction in the birth of children with congenital anomalies, he said.

State Health Minister C. Vijaya Baskar urged doctors to create confidence, quell scepticism and give public information about it. “We are aiming for 100 per cent coverage,” he said. He added that the health department was coordinating with other departments including the education and labour departments.

The programme is to be implemented through schools and balwadis as well as in outreach sites in communities and all children in the target age group are to be vaccinated irrespective of previous immunisation status.

The Indian Association of Paediatricians and the Indian Medical Association will also be associated with the campaign. Mobile medical teams will target hilly areas, slums as well as migrant workers.

A total of 90 lakh doses of the vaccine have already arrived, while another one crore or so will arrive on Febraury 15.

Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan also spoke of the importance of cause management and case management in dengue and swine flu (H1N1) in the State, on the necessity of a multi-pronged approach to tackling the diseases including elimination of breeding sources, tackling quacks, ensuring adequate testing facilities and prompt treatment.

Following the immunisation campaign, the MR vaccine will be introduced in the universal immunisation programme, replacing the current two doses given.

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Printable version | Aug 11, 2022 9:03:51 am |