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“Vaccines are the tugboats of preventive health”
World Health Organization (WHO) congratulates India for launching one of the world’s largest vaccination campaign against measles, a viral infection that can be fatal and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), responsible for irreversible birth defects. Though vaccination of children against measles was being covered under the national immunization programme, this was for the first time that rubella was introduced in the immunization schedule.
Measles affects young children and is life threatening. The virus spreads from one person to another, when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The symptoms of measles include fever of 38.3˚C or more, cough, running nose, diarrhea and red water eyes besides red blotchy rash all over the body.
Rubella virus not only affects children but grown up children up to the age of 15 years. The symptoms include red blotchy rash, mild fever, headache and pinkish eyes.
MR VACCINATION CAMPAIGN LAUNCH
The campaign was launched with the perspective of vaccinating more than 35 million children in the age group of 9 months to 15 years with a single shot of MR (measles and rubella) vaccine, once again demonstrates India’s commitment to improve health and well-being of its people by protecting children against vaccine preventable diseases.
The vaccine was introduced on 5th February 2017, initially in five states namely Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Puducherry & Lakshadweep through MR vaccination campaign for children aged between 9 months and 15 years. The drive was carried out at schools, community centers and medical institutes, covering children between the age group of 9 months and 15 years.
The first phase of the programme is significant as it is expected to accelerate the country’s efforts to eliminate measles which affects an estimated 2.5 million children every year, killing nearly 49,000 of them. The campaign also marks the introduction of rubella vaccine in India’s childhood immunization programme to address CRS which causes birth defects such as irreversible deafness and blindness in nearly 40,000 children every year.
The Union health ministry’s campaign against the two diseases intends to cover approximately 41 crore children in a phased manner, making it the largest-ever worldwide.
The second phase which started early this month will cover Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu which includes nearly 3.4 crore children.
MR VACCINATION PROGRAMME BEGINS IN KERALA
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the State-level measles-rubella vaccination mission programme at the Government Girls’ Higher Secondary School, Ernakulam on October 3,2017.
INDIA’S CAMPAIGN- A BIG STEP TOWARDS REDUCING CHILDHOD MORTALITY
India has made important efforts against measles in recent years. Measles death have declined and this has been possible by significantly increasing the reach of the first dose of measles vaccine, given at the age of 9 months under the routine immunization programme. In 2010, India introduced the second dose of measles-containing vaccine in routine immunization programme to close the immunity gap and accelerate measles elimination. Nearly 118 million children aged 9 months to 10 years were vaccinated during mass measles vaccination campaigns between 2010 and 2013 in selected states of India.
India has already beaten smallpox, polio, maternal and neonatal tetanus and very recently, yaws.
Following the campaign, MR vaccine will become a part of routine immunization and will replace the measles vaccine, currently given to children. For the MR campaign to be effective, it is important that throughout its duration, and in routine immunization thereafter, no child is left behind. It is a part of global efforts to reduce illness and deaths due to measles and rubella in the country.