Apprehensions pertaining to any new vaccine are always to be expected. The latest to fall in this category is the Rubella vaccine.
The argument raised by some officials within the Health Department that the government has kick-started a massive vaccination drive when cases of Rubella or German measles are yet to be seen in the state, has kicked up a row.
An official of the Health Department, on condition of anonymity, pointed out that the vaccine is being given for a disease which is self-limiting and not very severe. “Majority of the doctors are unaware of the disease because the state is yet to register the existence of such a disease. Barring an incident in Thiruvananthapuram eight years ago, there is no proof to show that Rubella has become a problem in the state. Besides, there are no statistics in this regard and no in-depth study has been undertaken,” he said.
As the vaccine is not synthetic, chances of vaccine-induced infections are also high.
“It is the half-killed virus that is being injected into the body. When infections erupt, it could be communicable,” sources said.
Besides, the massive drive is to vaccinate adolescent girls when the reality is that the rubella is usually seen in children below five years of age. To top it, the vaccination drive by the government is not part of the national immunisation drive, the official added.
However, refuting all the charges, pediatricians have come to the fore stating that many private hospitals had been giving the vaccine for the past 25 years.
Dr Abraham Paul, executive director of the Childcare Centre here and former IAP president, Kochi, said that the MMR vaccine (Mumps, Measles and Rubella) has been widely administered to infants since 1985.
“But for some reasons or the other, the government hospitals were not able to provide the vaccine. But when the incidence of the disease was high, the government decided to administer the vaccine. The repercussions are high if a woman falls victim to the Rubella virus during the first three months of her pregnancy. The child can get eye or heart ailments. In such a situation, according to the national guidelines of IAP, the pregnancy has to be aborted. That’s why the vaccination is targeted at adolescent girls,” he pointed out.
Dr Ajith Kumar K, Additional Professor, Thrissur Medical College, also dismissed the allegations against the vaccination. He said that it is wrong to say that Rubella was not identified in the state.
“There have been many cases and the vaccination proved effective not only in India but in other countries too,” he said.