Measles-Rubella vaccine drive launched; to cover 1.65 cr kids

1st phase of all-India campaign kickstarts in Bengaluru

Measles-Rubella vaccine drive launched; to cover 1.65 cr kids

The Union government on Sunday launched the first phase of the all India Measles and Rubella (MR) vaccine immunisation campaign from Bengaluru for the four states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Goa and the Union Territory of Puducherry.

The campaign is a part of the Central government’s mission to eliminate measles and control the congenital rubella syndrome in India by 2020. The Centre is also making MR vaccine a part of the universal immunisation programme.

Speaking at the launch of the programme, Arun K Panda, Additional Secretary and Mission Director, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that every year 30,000 children in India are effected with the atypical measles syndromes. That is the reason why the Centre has taken the decision to make the measles and rubella vaccine as one, instead of giving two different injections to children.

Pregnant women should also be administered the rubella vaccine to ensure that newborns are not infected. From now on, children till be administered two doses- first for those in the age group of 9-12 months and the second for those aged between 16-24 months.

Karnataka Chief Secretary S C Khuntia said that the MR vaccine campaign has been planned from February 7 to 28 in Karnataka, targeting 1.65 crore children in the state aged between nine months and 15 years.

In the first week, children in all government and private schools will be covered and in the second week the drive will target children in anganwadi’s. In the third week the Health and Family Welfare department staff will cover children through door-to-door campaign as done under polio immunisation campaign.

South Indian actor Ramesh Aravind has been chosen by the state government to reach the masses and explain the importance of the MR vaccine, said Health and Family Welfare Minister K R Ramesh Kumar. “All tests have been done and there are no side effects to the vaccines,” he said.

Officials from the Health department and World Health Organisation (WHO) said vaccinating children for rubella and measles is not new. It is being given by private doctors since the last 25 years. It is now being officially launched by the government and made mandatory in the immunisation chart of children.

“The Centre has planned to first bring all children who have got or have not got the MR vaccine at one level and, from next year make it mandatory for all private and government doctors to administer the MR vial as a part of the children immunisation chart,” said a WHO official.

Union Minister of State for Health Faggan Singh Kulaste and his collegaues Ananth Kumar and D V Sadananda Gowda were present.

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