Aiming at preventing severe diarrhoea among children, the state Health Department on Wednesday introduced rotavirus vaccine in the government-run medical colleges, district and sub-divisional hospitals and health centres.
State Minister Health Chandrima Bhattacharya formally launched the free vaccination programme for the children below five years of age on Wednesday, said an official.
The state government has chalked out a detailed plan to vaccinate the children.
“It (vaccine) will be administered from all government facilities and outreach sites free of cost. Three doses will be given to all infants starting from six-week age with subsequent doses at 10 and 14 weeks,” read a statement issued by the Health Department, signed by Dr Ajoy Kumar Chakraborty, Director of Health Services.
According to official statistics, diarrhoea is the leading cause of death among children. It contributes to about 10 per cent of all deaths in children below five years of age. “In India, rotavirus accounts for 40 per cent of hospitalisation due to diarrhoea amongst children, resulting in 78,000 deaths annually, of which 59,000 occur in the first two years of life. Rotavirus diarrhoea cannot be treated using drugs or antibiotics. Administering children with the rotavirus vaccine is a specific measure which can prevent severe diarrhoea by 74 per cent. It is safe and effective vaccine and being used in 98 countries… both private sector and public sector for many years,” read the statement issued by the department.
As per plan, trained health workers will administer the vaccine orally to the children with a specially manufactured single-use syringe. As many as 80,298 health workers have gone through a comprehensive training programme by the department.
“Our target for the immunisation programme is 14.65 lakh infants. Bengal has high coverage of vaccines (95 per cent fully immunised as per Health Management Information System data 2018-19),” Dr Chakraborty said.