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Experts highlight polio eradication to deal with vaccine hesitancy

Amid reports of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, experts at a policy dialogue here laid emphasis on the experience of polio vaccination, which has succeeded in the elimination of the virus. An effective social mobilisation strategy could be evolved in Rajasthan to deal with misgivings and rumours, said the experts.

The vaccine hesitancy, reportedly mainly from the rural areas because of misinformation, trust deficit and indifference, could be managed by removing apprehensions and building trust in the State government’s health system, the participants said. Technical advances in the choice of vaccines could also play an important role.

The policy dialogue was organised by the Indian Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR) University’s School of Public Health. Experts felt that the lessons learnt from polio eradication campaigns, with India having been declared polio-free in 2014, would be beneficial for COVID-19 vaccination with the innovations in the programme implementation strategy and delivery.

IIHMR University’s chairperson S.D. Gupta said working on the structural barriers to vaccination, changing the behaviour of hesitant persons and increasing vaccine confidence would help remove complacency and make the process convenient for the target groups.

‘107 block plan’

Svea Closser of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, U.S., said India’s “107 block plan” for polio had helped in removing vaccine hesitancy by adopting a broader approach. The communication strategy included information on routine immunisation, oral rehydration solution, breastfeeding and handwashing.

School of Public Health’s adviser D.K. Mangal said about 6 billion COVID-19 vaccines had so far been administered across 184 countries. The lower uptake of vaccines because of hesitancy would adversely affect the efforts to contain the pandemic and generate immunity against the virus, he said.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2021 8:33:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/experts-highlight-polio-eradication-to-deal-with-vaccine-hesitancy/article36703535.ece

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