The measles–rubella (MR) vaccination drive was launched on Feb 6, 2017 in states like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Lakshadweep and Goa. This campaign is massive, and one of its kind of effort in the entire world. The final goal is to immunize 405 million children in the age group of 9 months–15 years by 2019. According to WHO, India has taken a major big step towards reducing childhood mortality by measles and birth defects by congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) through measles- rubella vaccination campaign. Measles Rubella (MR) vaccination drive is running across India. The big question is, “Should you give your consent to vaccinate your child at school?”
MR campaign is running successfully with only one condition applied. Parents must give the written consent before their child is vaccinated with the available MR vaccine. 92 million children were reportedly immunized in 20 states across the country as of early July 2018.
The MR vaccine is a World Health Organization (WHO) pre-qualified vaccine. It is safe and effective. For every vaccination, a new auto-disable syringe is being used for each child. Health centers with trained staff supervise all immunisation sessions at schools or in the community. They are equipped to manage side effects, if any.
Purpose of Measles Rubella vaccination drive
Measles is one of the most contagious diseases worldwide and is responsible for death and disability among children. Measles vaccine is under Universal Immunisation Program (UIP) in India since 1985. Rubella vaccine was not included in UIP earlier.
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 an 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 through herd immunity.
The drive will work to ensure that no child die from measles in future. Also, no baby is 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.
So, this explains the importance of Measle Rubella vaccination drive. As, an Indian, it is our duty to cooperate in the cause of humanity. If your child is healthy, you should not hesitate to give consent to vaccinate your child by MR vaccine.
Is MR vaccine better than MMR?
MR vaccine provides immunity against Measles and Rubella only. MMR provide added protection for Mumps also. In government hospitals, Measles was the standalone vaccine routinely given to infants and school going children. Rubella vaccine was not included in Routine immunization program. But, private clinics were administering the combination vaccine MMR (Measles Mumps and Rubella) already.
What if your child has already received all doses of Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine? Should you still vaccinate your child?
Then, question arises, “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. It is better to provide an additional dose to the child irrespective of the immunisation status under such national drives to ensure boosted immunity.
All things said, 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.