January 6, 2009 2:23:55 am
New stocks of vaccine expected to arrive from China only after March
After much dilly-dallying,around 4.6 lakh doses of Japanese Encephalitis (JE) vaccine supplied to the state government in September 2008 has finally been declared ineffective.
First,there was carelessness on part of the state government regarding the storage of the vaccines and then the blame game between the Centre and the state.
Now the Centre has asked the state Health Department to destroy the stock as per the guidelines of the Drug Control Organisation.
On the other hand,the state government is reluctant to go ahead with this directive and is planning to send the supply back to the Centre so they could deal with the stock as per their requirements.
There are certain guidelines and protocol set by the Drug Controller of India for destroying such vaccines, said Dr Sunil D Khaperde,Deputy Commissioner,Immunisation.
If the state needs the guidelines,we will give them. The matter is now being handled by the Universal Immunisation Programme wing, he added.
Since the vaccine is as good as water now,we will keep it outside the deep freezer and use the storage space for other vaccines, said an official of the state Health Department.
In no case will we destroy the vaccine in the state as it contains strains of the virus and in a vulnerable state like ours,this can create further problems, he added.
As passing the buck continues,over 6 lakh children between the age group of 0-2 years in the 11 high risk districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh wait for the vaccine.
They were to be immunised by July 2008 and experts now fear that the gap will make its effect felt in the outbreak season in 2009.
The Centre has made it clear that the vaccine will be made available as soon as fresh stock arrives from China.
According to sources,the fresh procurement will begin around March and it might take more time for the fresh stock to finally reach India.
The 4.6 lakh JE doses had been supplied to the state government from the Government Medical Store Depot,Karnal,on September 12.
Soon after the supply reached Lucknow,the officials of the state government declared that the vaccine was in stage three of exposure to heat and had lost its potency.
The Centre,however,maintained that the stock was in stage two of exposure and could easily be used for routine immunisation. The state Health Minister blamed the Centre for its negligence and alleged foul play.
Soon,a letter from Naresh Dayal,secretary,Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,blamed the state government for manipulation of facts and figures and for their poor cold storage facility.
This blame game continued for over three months.
Neither did the state government use this supply of vaccine nor did the Centre withdraw the supply despite their claim that it could be put to further use.
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