The measles-rubella (MR) vaccination drive was launched on Feb 6 and it will go on till Feb 28 throughout India. It will target more than 35 million children between the ages of 9 months to 15 years. According to WHO, India has taken a major big step towards reducing childhood mortality and birth defects through measles- rubella vaccination campaign.
The initiative will work to ensure that no child dies from measles or will be born with congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) by 2020. The campaign will be followed by inclusion of MR vaccine in the Routine Immunization program. Vaccine is 100% safe and parents should utilize the opportunity to vaccinate their children and should not believe the rumors about the side effects of vaccine. Though, parents should inform the school authorities in advance in case of any present illness which may make the child vulnerable to side effects of any medicine or vaccine given. Healthy children are perfectly fit to take the vaccine without any side effects.
Measles is one of the most contagious diseases worldwide and is responsible for death and disability among children. Rubella is an under recognized public health problem as it usually causes mild rash illness in children and adults. But, Congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) is a major disease, which can occur, in a developing fetus of a pregnant woman who has contracted Rubella virus infection usually in the first trimester. Rubella infection during pregnancy can lead to serious consequences such as miscarriages and stillbirths. Also, a series of severe birth defects like cataracts, blindness, congenital heart disease, hearing impairment or deafness, and developmental delay can occur in infants born to infected mother.
Rubella vaccine is a live virus vaccine and cannot be taken during pregnancy. Females of childbearing age should be vaccinated with rubella vaccine to avoid complications of rubella during pregnancy. It is advised not to get pregnant before one month has passed after MMR vaccination. Vaccinating the majority of the population is by far the most effective way to prevent congenital rubella syndrome.
In government hospitals, Measles was only routinely given to infants and school going children. Rubella vaccine was not included in Routine immunization program. Though, private clinics were administering the combination vaccine MMR (Measles Mumps and Rubella) already. Then, question arises that why is vaccine given to every child irrespective of his/her immunization history? The answer to this lies in the fact that most of the immunization records are incomplete or sometimes even lost by the time, child turns 6 years. In many records, brands of vaccine or whether measles alone or MMR vaccine is given, is also not mentioned. So, there is no way to find, that a child has completed the required doses of MR/MMR vaccine or not. India really needs a web based immunization registry to know the status of immunization of each child after every visit. Otherwise, resources, time and overall health will be jeopardized every time when the urgent call of action is needed.
India has shown its potential of tackling health problems by eradicating Polio through successful pulse polio program. It is utmost important to identify the infected and vulnerable areas of populations and make the vaccine available to each child there. Proper surveillance and monitoring of vaccination drive will be needed.