Every year large number of children die of measles, keeping this in mind the Centre has launched a massive anti-measles vaccination drive targeting 57 lakh children in the age group of 9 to 10 years. More than 13 crore children are expected to be covered under the Measles Catch-up Campaign, irrespective of their previous measles vaccination status.
The drive has been launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, with support from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD), for carrying out the vaccination programme in primary schools, target children aged up to 10 years, particularly in 14 States where the routine immunization coverage is less than 80 per cent.
For each school, the vaccination programme will be completed in one day with the least disruption to academic routine. However, unlike the Pulse Polio campaign, there will be no door-to-door visits, and children will have to be mobilized from outreach areas to the session site.
Till date children were administered only one dose of measles vaccine on the ninth month as part of the routine immunization programme. From now on, a second dose of measles will be given to all children of 16 months, along with the DPT booster dose.
The States that will benefit from this campaign are Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Rajasthan, Tripura, and Uttar Pradesh.
The campaign has been launched in Bokaro, Dhanbad, Dumka, East Singhbhum, Godda, Hazaribag, Pakur, Ranchi, Sahebganj and Simdega on November 18 and on December 2 in the remaining nine districts of Chatra, Garhwa, Giridih, Koderma, Latehar, Palamu, Ramgarh, Saraikela and West Singhbhum. Earlier, the first phase of measles vaccination campaign was held in the five districts of Deoghar, Gumla, Jamtara, Lohardaga and Khunti on January 31, 2011.
Measles is a highly infectious disease which is contracted by children with low immunity and can cause acute respiratory problems, diarrhoea, and pneumonia. The disease can also result in disabilities such as visual impairment. While India has made significant improvement in reducing child mortality due to immunization coverage, measles continues to remain a major cause of death among children, claiming between 50,000 to 1,00,000 lives every year. Measles can be prevented by a single dose of vaccine if it is administered when the child is between 9 to 12 months, but only 69 per cent of children in the country are protected against this disease in the country. The campaign offers an opportunity to the children to get immunized, particularly those who have been left out earlier.