States with high caseload to get extra measles vaccine

The Union Health Ministry on Wednesday announced administering an additional dose of measles vaccine to children after witnessing a rise in such viral respiratory infections in at least six states.

While the Centre deployed teams in Ranchi, Ahmedabad and Malappuram to take stock of the situation and help the state administration manage rising measles cases, other affected districts were also under watch, officials said.

The decisions were taken following a review under the chairmanship of V K Paul, Member (Health) NITI Ayog and a former professor of paediatrics at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi.

It has been decided that one additional dose – the special measles and rubella shot – will be administered to all children of 9 months to 5 years in vulnerable areas that are to be identified by the state governments.

This would be done in “outbreak response immunisation” mode and would be in addition to the primary vaccination schedule of the first dose at 9-12 months and the second dose at 16-24 months.

One additional dose would be administered to all children aged 6-9 months in those areas where measles cases in the age group of less than 9 months are above 10% of the total caswes.

The same set of children would also be covered by the first and second doses of the vaccine as per the primary vaccination schedule.

The ministry decided in favour of an additional vaccination drive following an increase in the number of measles cases from certain districts of Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Kerala and Maharashtra.

A rapid rise in the number of cases and a few deaths due to measles has also been observed in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and a few other districts of Maharashtra, triggering public health concerns.

Since the disease is known to be fatal among children with moderate and severe malnourishment, it has been decided that as a part of the case identification and management, house-to-house search activities would be conducted to identify such vulnerable children and provide them with pre-emptive care with nutritional and Vitamin A supplementation.

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