As many as 4.5 lakh children have received the measles-rubella vaccine in the city, as part of a massive campaign across the state to vaccinate 3.10 crore children against measles-rubella.
But civic health officials said they had faced resistance against the vaccine from some schools because of WhatsApp messages which had spread incorrect information about the vaccine. Civic officials said parents at some madrasas, Urdu-medium and international schools were reluctant to get their children vaccinated against measles-rubella.
Dr Ramchandra Hankare, Pune Municipal Corporation’s health department chief, said the civic body had appealed to religious leaders and also involved educationist P A Inamdar in its efforts to convince parents of children at these schools, to let their children get vaccinated.
“We are holding several meetings, including with the municipal commissioner, to dispel doubts among students and their parents about the vaccination,” Hankare told The Indian Express. “We have to ensure cent per cent vaccination to build immunity against measles-rubella,” he added.
The campaign to immunise 9.6 lakh children in the age group of 9 months to 15 years against measles and rubella started in areas under PMC from November 27. In Pune rural areas, the target is to immunise another 12.54 lakh children.
India, along with 10 other World Health Organisation South East Asia Region member-countries, has resolved to eliminate measles and control rubella/congenital rubella syndrome by 2020. The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has, accordingly, initiated measles-rubella vaccination campaign in a phased manner across the country.
Civic health officials admitted that it has been challenging to deal with reluctance from schools in the city. “There has been some anxiety among parents since the vaccine is an injectable one. But we have held several training programmes and meetings to show that it is safe and there is no need to panic,” said officials.
Dr Amit Shah, immunisation officer with the PMC, said a total of 1,350 schools in civic areas have been part of the exercise, while at least 300 health teams have been set up. “According to our analysis, there are at least 100 schools where the immunisation coverage is 90 per cent, while at 65 schools the coverage is below 50 per cent,” said Shah.