A DROP in the number of cases of H1N1 virus this year has also resulted in a dip in the number of vaccine doses to be procured by the Maharashtra state. The state health department said that as against one lakh doses procured last year, an initial 25,000 doses would be procured as of now.
A pilot programme had been launched in July last year to provide free-of-cost vaccination to pregnant women and high-risk persons against H1N1 virus (swine flu). The vaccines were made available at state-run hospitals, medical colleges as well as municipal corporation-run hospitals for free. With one lakh doses, at least 83,000 pregnant women, including many from Pune, Nagpur and Thane, availed the vaccination and were immunised.
“It has been a tough job as we have to literally convince people to take the vaccine,” said Dr Kanchan Jagtap, Joint Director of Health. He added, “This year, 69 cases and 20 deaths have been recorded across the state and we have proposed that there should be a regular state-wide programme for vaccination against H1N1 virus.” The state’s expert committee on non-communicable diseases headed by chairman Dr Subhash Salunkhe also stressed on the importance of vaccination and said that there should be no complacency regarding the same at a meeting held on July 19. “The priority is immunising frontline health workers, pregnant women and obese and diabetic persons. We have to step up the tempo,” he said.
“Over a lakh doses of vaccine against H1N1 virus had been procured last year and the entire lot has been used. However this year, we have to initiate the tendering process and will procure 25,000 doses. The procedure at the state level is an elaborate one but we have instructed corporations to immediately start procuring the vaccine and begin the immunisation programme,” Jagtap added. To ensure that the vaccination project takes on a programme mode and a fixed budget is allocated for the doses, state health officials are also planning an advocacy and awareness campaign.
According to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) experts, vaccination against H1N1 virus is recommended – especially for pregnant women and the high risk group – like diabetic persons and others. At the Pune Municipal Corporation, Dr Anjali Sabne, Deputy Medical Officer, said that a total of 5,500 pregnant women in the city had been vaccinated against H1N1 virus.
“We have also received the instructions and will start procuring the vaccine,” Sabne added.
In Pune, Pimpri Chinchwad and Pune rural, there have been 31 cases and 10 deaths due to H1N1 virus this year. As against this, in 2015, there were
214 deaths and 1726 cases of swine flu.