Awareness campaign on vaccination

Staff Reporter

Thiruvananthapuram: The district health administration is preparing to launch an information and awareness campaign in city schools on Japanese encephalitis and safety issues connected with the vaccine against it, as part of promoting the ongoing mass vaccination campaign.

Children in the 1-15 age group are being given the vaccine. Over one lakh children in the district have been vaccinated, but the response from city schools continues to be mixed.

The district health administration officials said a debate over the vaccine’s safety and media reports about mild reactions in some children after the vaccination — nausea, lethargy and minor skin irritations — had cast a shadow over the programme.

The vaccine, live attenuated SA 14-14-2, has been approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF and the Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety and it is safe, District Medical Officer N. Sreedhar said. The vaccine has been recommended for use in Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Goa and West Bengal also, he said.

The WHO endorsements of the vaccine will be given wide publicity through schools, he added.

Japanese encephalitis is being frequently reported from various parts of the State and eight cases reported so far this year had been fatal. Four of the cases were from Thiruvananthapuram district.

Children aged one to 15 have been chosen for vaccination as they are the most vulnerable to this infection, officials said. The Health Department is, however, not disregarding the side reactions of the vaccine, however mild they are, and the Committee to Monitor Adverse Events Following Immunisation had decided to investigate the issue.

Blood and cerebrospinal fluid samples of children who had come to a private hospital in the city reportedly with reactions following the vaccination have been sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune, to ascertain if these have any link to the vaccine, district health officials said.

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