Almost 80,000 children and more than 13,000 pregnant women will benefit from an intensified immunisation drive in Maharashtra.
The news comes from the state on the heels of an announcement earlier this year that the Government of India was stepping up its immunisation efforts through Indradhanush 2: an enhanced version of the Government’s vaccination drive ‘Mission Indradhanush’ launched in December 2014. Vaccinations are provided, according to the National Health Portal, against “diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, measles, severe form of childhood tuberculosis, hepatitis B, meningitis and pneumonia (Haemophilus influenzae type B infections), Japanese encephalitis (JE) in JE-endemic districts with [later] introduction of…vaccines such as [the] rotavirus vaccine, IPV [inactivated poliovirus vaccine], adult JE vaccine, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) and measles-rubella (MR) vaccine.” The drive will commence at the national level on December 2nd.
In Maharashtra, the immunisation drive will reach 77,695 children and 13,263 pregnant women though this figure is liable to increase as the 26 districts shortlisted for the immunisation drive report their statistics. 7,371 immunisation sessions are planned by the Maharashtra chapter of the National Health Mission.
“The process of finalizing the number of children based on the head count is in the final phase,” said an official within the Maharashtra National Health Mission. “Our focus is more on districts that are populated with tribals. Urban areas, where people have come from rural belts, remain deprived of vaccination facilities. They will be on our list.”
Earlier this year, Vandana Gurnani, additional secretary within the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said of Indradhanush 2 that “the districts chosen for the current drive have immunisation coverage of seventy percent or below, which is less than the national average.” There is a need to vaccinate against vaccine-preventable diseases in India, given that they incur a significant toll – especially on child health. Of the 260 lakh children born every year in India, 31.2 lakh do not complete a full round of immunisation against such diseases according to the Government. The consequence is children and pregnant women needlessly dying – when their deaths could have been prevented entirely.