300 Delhi-NCR schools yet to get on board for Government’s MR vaccination campaign


At least 300 formal and informal schools in Delhi-NCR are yet to agree to the government’s measles-rubella vaccination campaign, which is set to start from January 16, according to officials. Around 40 are registered schools, the rest are informal play schools and madrasas. More than 55 lakh children between the ages of 9 months and 15 years (Class 10) will receive the vaccine to prevent the contagious viral diseases.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease which causes fever, runny nose, cough, and rashes and complications such as encephalitis (swelling of the brain membrane) and may lead to death. Rubella causes mild fever and rashes but in pregnant women, it can lead to spontaneous abortion and birth defects.
“Quite a registered schools are the elite ones that do not have faith in the government system. However, the government has the resources to carry out the best immunisation programmes -- there is a marker on every vial and its colour changes if a proper cold chain is not maintained or if a vaccine is not used within 8 hours after opening, we discard it, no questions asked. The syringe is also auto-disabled, so it cannot be used a second time,” said Dr Nutan Mundeja, Delhi’s director general of health services. The government hopes that these schools, that together have 3 lakh students, will join once the programme is carried out successfully in other schools.
“We are hoping that these schools will also join in once the campaign starts. In fact, we are starting off with Delhi Public School, Mathura Road, to motivate other private schools. Even if some say no, we will reach out to those children during the outreach and mop-up,” said Dr Suresh Seth, state programme officer for immunisation.
The campaign will be carried out in a phased manner students from around 5,400 big schools in the city will receive the vaccines between January 16 and February 2, after which there will be a gap because the national pulse polio drive is scheduled. From February 11, for another two weeks, 4,300 other small and informal schools will be targeted along with an outreach with the health of ASHAs and ANMs. And then, there will be a mop up for another week to vaccinate anyone who has been left out. The children who receive the vaccines will be given a certificate and marked by ink on their nails, to ensure that they are not given the shots again.
“We will also check with students from Noida and Ghaziabad whether they received the vaccine when the campaign was carried out in Uttar Pradesh to avoid duplication. And, even if they do get another dose, there is no harm. In fact, because all the neighbouring states have already completed their campaigns, there should not be a problem with unvaccinated migrant population coming in after the campaign,” said Dr Mundeja.
“In fact, the additional dose offers more herd immunity (of immunity of the population to a disease) because even if all the children receive the first two doses of the vaccine, only 85% develop resistance to measles and 95% to rubella,” said Dr Pradeep Haldar.
Over 22 lakh children from 30 states and union territories have already been vaccinated. Similar campaigns are underway in Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, after which only West Bengal, Sikkim and Rajasthan would be left for the campaign. The target is to reach around 40 lakh children across the country.

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