The Health Department is making extra efforts to cover more children under the ongoing measles-rubella vaccination drive as the extended deadline ends on November 18. It has now joined hands with unaided school managements to launch an eight-day-long campaign from Friday.
Nizar Olavanna, president, All-Kerala Private School Managements Association, told the media here on Wednesday that unaided schools were less than enthusiastic to vaccinate their students. Coastal areas and hilly areas were found to be lagging behind the rest. The coverage was below 50% in areas covered by the primary health centres in Vadakara, Koyilandy, Cheruvady, Mukkom, Cherooppa, Kuttiyadi, Valayam, Cheruvannoor, and Perambra. Areas within the Kozhikode City Corporation too were way behind.
Sarala Nair, district reproductive child healthcare officer, said that the coverage of the district so far was 63% and they had been able to overcome the initial resistance from religious groups and community leaders. As many as 4,64,964 children of the targeted 7,38,694 had been vaccinated.
“Of the 75 lakh children targeted in the State, 53 lakh have already been vaccinated. None of them were found to have any side effects. We presume parents are now realising that their anxieties are misplaced,” she said. To allay the fears of religious minorities, audio and video clips of community leaders had been widely circulated. Some parents were under the impression that the vaccination was not mandatory. With relentless campaign, even that misconception had been cleared to some extent, Dr. Nair pointed out.
As the next step, the department is planning to launch a second phase of the drive to reach out to the missed children. The tie-up with private school managements was part of this move as only less than 30% of the unaided schools had been covered so far. Of the 1,920 schools in the district, 686 are unaided schools.