HYDERABAD: While Telangana has fared well in maternal and prenatal health, it lags behind at 11th rank when it comes to child immunisation with only 90 per cent immunization rate, according to latest NITI Aayog 'Health Index' report.
Reacting to the data, Dr G Sudheera, Joint Director of Immunisation of Telangana, said that 100 per cent immunisation is not possible in any State, yet Telangana has close to 96-98 per cent immunization coverage. It is interesting to note that Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Jammu & Kashmir and Jharkhand have achieved 100 per cent immunization coverage.
Sudheera further added, “The data published by the Centre may vary as every infant has a buffer period of three months, from the age of nine months to six months, between which he/she can be immunized, and therefore it is necessary to take into consideration the cross-section of the time period when the data was collected by the central government. Apart from this, one also needs to understand that not every child can be vaccinated in one specific drive.
If an infant is sick, immunization cannot be administered, and therefore the child will have to wait for the next drive.” Do the minimal four per cent of children who are not vaccinated pose a substantial threat? Dr N Ravi Kumar, Head of the Department, Pediatrics, Niloufer Hospital, says, “While it is true that 100 per cent immunization is not possible in any state, the small percentage of un-immunised children also pose a threat especially for diseases like diphtheria and tuberculosis. While diphtheria might not be fatal, if a child acquires TB, the entire family is put at risk. It is similar for cases of measles.”
While Telangana does administer the Measles-Rubella vaccine, private hospitals have already started administering an upgraded version to tackle mumps as well as Mumps Measle Rubella. Sudheera adds, “We cannot administer the MMR without the Centre’s directive. Additionally, changing an entire cycle of vaccine is also difficult in terms of cost, training and logistics.”