MALAPPURAM: By the age of seven, children should have immunisation against eight possible diseases, but statistics show more than one in 10 parents in the district have rejected it because of ‘safety worries’. As per the figures available with the District Medical Office, the percentage of infants taking vaccination has dipped every following year since 2013, despite a special vaccination drive launched by the DMO.
The district has vaccinated 96.28 percent of children in the first phase of the campaign in 2013 while the number went down by 1 percent in the following phase, according to the DMO data.
As many as 95.3 percent of children were covered in 2014 drive and it slipped to further 94.6 percent in 2015. The 2016, time period recorded 93.16 percent, down by about 1 percent.
“The objection from the parents is strong. You cannot do anything against those who steadfastly refuse to take vaccines mainly because of the safety concerns endangered via social media and some religious organisations,” Malappuram District Medical Officer Ummer Farook said. He added that worries about vaccine safety were common even among parents whose kids were fully vaccinated. One in five among that group said they think delaying shots is safer than the recommended schedule. This disturbing scenario suggested that a good number of infants and young children in the districts might not be fully protected against the preventable diseases, including some that can be deadly or disabling.
“The situation that these children are presently vulnerable to diseases such as tetanus, hepatitis-B, tuberculosis, poliomyelitis, diphtheria, meningitis and measles presents a worrying picture of the district,” said deputy district medical officer Dr Renuka.
She said that people who have seen infants die of any such disease in their region have shown enough enthusiasm to immunise their children. “I know a village, which had a lower percentage of vaccination, recorded 100 per cent of immunisation after two children had died of tetanus.
Meanwhile, M I Abdul Azeez, the state president of Jama’at-e-Islami - a major Muslim organisation - said that there was no organisational move against any type of vaccination, saying it is a personal choice.
Mission Mukthi fails to click
The district, in an effort to ensure 100 per cent vaccination, has launched a campaign called Mission Mukthi. However, a strong resistance from parents saw the effort fail to bring the expected result.“It will take some time to sensitise people about the repercussion of opting out of shots. We need wait and watch. Some Muslim orthodox families have been misguided by false information about the vaccination. This has badly affected our effort,” said Dr Renuka.