TAMIL NADU

Vaccination programme to combat rubella stepped up

CHENNAI April 15. In the past two months 1,633 young women from various colleges in the city have been vaccinated for Rubella, also known as German measles. Rubella is the cause for 25.5 per cent of congenital malformations which include deafness and cataract, though the mother who carries the virus is not affected.

Rubella is a viral infection which can affect anyone and the symptoms are a mild fever and appearance of red spots on the body like a rash during fever. Young children transmit the disease to adults.

Surveys at the Madhuram Narayanam Centre for the mentally disabled and the M.G.R. school for the hearing impaired in the city, found that about 40 per cent of children with mental disabilities were affected by Rubella. Sixty per cent of the hearing impaired population in the country suffers from Rubella syndrome.

Rotaract, the youth wing of the Rotary International has mobilised support for this vaccination programme. A group of college girls and young men has designed a CD on Rubella which includes advice on the disease from doctors, actors like Revathy and Lakshmi and citizens involved with special children.

The vaccine can be administered in three stages. Every girl above the age of nine, all women of child-bearing age and mothers who have had children should get vaccinated to protect the next pregnancy. At present the vaccine is manufactured only by the Serum Institute of India in Pune. When Rubella affects a pregnant woman the damage caused to foetus could result in multiple defects including insulin dependent diabetes. The greatest damage is caused when the mother is infected between the third and the 14th week of pregnancy.

The Rotaract is currently concentrating on private colleges and has immunised some employees of an international bank in the city. Members of the Rotaract meet principals of private schools and colleges and after the CD show, hold interactive sessions with the students. The vaccine costs Rs. 50, and Rs. 12 from this amount is set apart to immunise the girls in corporation schools.

Representatives of the organisation feel that a little more interest among school and college authorities would help because at present only about 10 per cent of the students who attend an awareness programme choose to immunise themselves. This was because of low awareness among parents, the college and school authorities and poor follow-up in educational institutions.

So far, the organisation has conducted awareness programmes in the Anna University, besides private colleges like MGR Janaki, Kannika Parameswari, Asan, Shankara and Eshwari.

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