Immunisation set to record high coverage

CHENNAI, JAN. 20. The second phase of the eighth pulse polio immunisation programme on Sunday is set to achieve a high coverage, targeting 73 lakh children below five years in the State.

With final figures still to be consolidated, the last available trends indicated that the coverage would have crossed 95 per cent.

A dipstick survey done by the Public Health department on the number of children covered during the last phase in December, 2001, showed that about 0.8 per cent was left unimmunised. Besides administering an additional dose of oral polio vaccine (OPV) to the children already covered, the left-out children during the first phase will be immunised during the current phase, officials said.Following the immunisation day, a door-to-door mop-up exercise will be taken up for the next two days to ensure that 100 per cent coverage was achieved. Initial reports received from districts indicated a ``good response'' from the public, they said.

The campaign was conducted at about 40,400 posts manned by health staff and volunteers from Rotary Clubs, NSS, youth forums and other agencies. About 600 mobile teams were formed to replenish the stock of vaccines at the centres. Many more teams were formed at local levels to cover remote areas and difficult terrains. Special teams were sent to Kalrayan hills, Pachhamalai hills, hilly areas of Dharmapuri and Nilgiris districts, Annamalai hills in Pollachi, Bodi Nayakanoor near Theni, Dindigul, Kodaikanal and scattered human settlements like those at Manjolai estate in Tirunelveli.More efforts were made to immunise children in ``high-risk'' areas such as hills, slums, inter-state border, and posh areas.

Volunteers and health department staff numbering over 1.5 lakhs made the massive exercise possible.

Tamil Nadu has not recorded a single case of polio for the past two consecutive years, while the national figures stood at 265 cases in 2000, and 129 in 2001. The last polio case was recorded in the State from Erode district on November 30, 1999.

The outreach programmes paid dividends by bringing parents along with their children to the immunisation booths.

However, the second phase could probably register a lesser number of cases at the centres because some parents, despite the publicity, still think that additional doses are not necessary for the child. The health officials emphasised that every child below five years should be administered OPV on immunisation days irrespective of any number of doses already given.

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