Kids to get vaccinated for diphtheria 

Health and Family Welfare Department plans drive in govt, private schools across state 

BENGALURU: Following the recent outbreak of Diphtheria in parts of north Karnataka, the Health and Family Welfare Department is planning a vaccination programme in schools across the state.

This will be done in coordination with the Education Department and Women and Child Development Department.

“The immunisation programme for Diphtheria prevention in schools must be robust ... which may not be the case in all schools. The department plans to begin vaccination programmes in all government and private schools, anganwadis, among others. Usually, the boosters to be given every five years to children is not done which may be the reason why several fell ill. We will need nearly 11 lakh DPT boosters (Diphtheria Pertussis Tetanus) and tetanus-diphtheria vaccine for ages 10 and 16,” a World Health Organisation (WHO) representative told TNIE on the sidelines of a two-day state-level workshop for Measles & Rubella elimination.

As many as 37 cases of Diphtheria were found in Gulbarga Institute of Medical Sciences in the ladies hostel alone earlier this month.

“Between January and August, nearly 300 cases of Diphtheria were recorded which is perhaps the highest in the country. There is a shortage of DPT vaccine. The department wrote to the Union government for vaccines on August 1. We expect it to reach us in October after which WHO in co-ordination with the state government will start the vaccination programme,” the representative added. Until then, district-level review meetings will be held to plan on how to execute the vaccination programme.

The department is also working with WHO to eliminate Measles and Rubella as per the new national target of 2023 by strengthening the reporting mechanism at village, district and urban level.

“People in villages often approach temples when they suffer from fever with rashes. Hence, the plan is to educate priests, faith healers and other local influential people to send suspected cases to the primary health centres or government hospitals,” said Dr Lokesh Alahari, sub-regional team leader, Karnataka, WHO India, while addressing the gathering of District RCHOs ( Reproductive Child Health Officer) at the workshop.

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