CHENNAI/COIMBATORE: With the Measles-Rubella vaccination drive coming to a close, Tamil Nadu has managed to cover only 79.5 per cent of the target despite extending the deadline. As such, the health department has planned to continue vaccination at camps, Primary Health Centres and Government Hospitals for a week more to reach the target.
The programme, launched on February 6, was estimated to cover over 1.76 crore children across the state. It was initially scheduled from February 6-28 but extended till March 15 due to poor coverage.
Many parents kept their children away from vaccinating Measles-Rubella because of the false information spread on social media.
Till Tuesday only 1.40 crore children could be covered. Expressing hope for achieving the target on the last day of the programme, Dr K Kolandaswamy, Director of Public Health said, the MR vaccine will be administered in the special camps, PHCs and GHsfor another week to cover missed children.
According to him Chennai, among the many districts with poor coverage, has achieved 86.6 per cent while it was 50 per cent for Thoothukudi. “However, we are hopeful that we will reach the target in a week,” he added.
The anti-vaccination propaganda had almost de-railed the drive forcing the officials to release short films to raise awareness and debunk the false theories.
Three state and two Union Territories - Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Puducherry and Lakshadweep were selected for the centrally-sponsored MR vaccination programme in the first ever mandatory MR vaccination drive.
Later, MR vaccine would be added to the routine immunisation programme replacing the currently given two doses of measles vaccine, at 9-12 months and 16-24 months of age, Dr Kolandaswamy added.
Blaming negative publicity of the campaign on social media such as Whatsapp for the middling show, health department officials in Coimbatore rubbished claims about the vaccines being unsafe. “We hope to end Tuesday by covering another four lakh children.
Only the districts of Thoothukudi, Nagercoil and Trichy are lagging behind, which we hope to cover by Saturday. Erode, Dharmapuri, Ariyalur, Kallakuruchi, Virudhunagar and Thiruvallur have achieved more than 90 percent coverage,” said G Thamaraiselvi, Joint Drector of immunisation, Tamil Nadu.
The campaign would be concluded in Erode, Dharmapuri, Virudhunagar, Kallakuruchi and Thiruvallur Districts by Wednesday. “We will wait to assess the numbers for a couple more days and then decide whether to extend the programme. Mostly, the vaccine would be introduced as a part of the vaccination schedule,” she added. In Coimbatore, the percentage was at 74% as of Monday, with 6,34,581 lakh children out of 7.8 lakh being vaccinated, health officials said.