Focus attention on children who are missing the National Immunisation Schedule
The outbreak of measles in the Greater Mumbai region with 13 deaths in a month is a signal to governments to ensure that the National Immunisation Programme must be strengthened after the disruption caused by the pandemic. The first dose of the MR vaccine is given in the 9-12 month age period and the second dose when the child is in the 16-24 month age. Now government experts have suggested to provide the first dose at six months and an extra dose before children are five years, irrespective of whether they got one or two doses.
Read: In measles hotspots, minimum age for vaccine cut, booster added
Measles is a highly transmissible diseases with a high fatality rate among unvaccinated children. This is why the vaccine was included in the National Immunisation Schedule. With 22 outbreaks in the Mumbai region across 11 wards, the Maharashtra government has its task cut out to prevent a larger contagion. Breaking the chain through vaccination and greater disease surveillance is needed. With the experience of combating Covid, the state government must get cracking.
Studies by Unicef and other agencies have shown that child vaccination had suffered during the pandemic as attention shifted towards adult vaccination. Now that the pandemic has waned, governments must carefully evaluate at the grassroots how many children fell out of the vaccine net during this period and take countermeasures.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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