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Kerala vaccination mission battles resistance spread on social media

Kerala health services director Dr R L Saritha said certain groups who are always against vaccination were spreading false information against the mission.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram |
October 7, 2017 2:41:34 am
Measles-rubella vaccine, Universal Immunisation Programme, Health Minister J P Nadda, measles vaccine, MR vaccine, health news, India news, Indian express In Malappuram district, where the resistance is more tangible, vested groups tried to disrupt the vaccination camp in a school on Wednesday. (Representational)

An ongoing measles-rubella vaccination mission in Kerala has run into resistance as a social media campaign against the drive has dissuaded some families from taking their children to the health camps. In Malappuram district, where the resistance is more tangible, vested groups tried to disrupt the vaccination camp in a school on Wednesday.

Kerala Health Minister K K Shailaja Teacher said resistance against immunisation is still there in many parts of the state. “There is false propaganda against the vaccination drive. Certain people still hold on to superstitions…. But we are trying to overcome the situation by enlightening people. Besides, strong action would be taken against those creating panic among the people.’’

The minister said a case was registered on Friday in connection with spreading false news that five children had collapsed after they were administered the vaccine.
Besides, legal action would be initiated against naturopath Jacob Vadakkancheri, who is campaigning against the vaccination programme through social media, said the minister. According to health department officials, resistance against the vaccination has been felt more in Malappuram district, which hit headlines two years back after a revisit of diphtheria for want of vaccination among children.

Kerala health services director Dr R L Saritha said certain groups who are always against vaccination were spreading false information against the mission.

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“In the past, vaccination had never been cent per cent in Malappuram. However, during the present month-long programme, we hope to vaccinate all children after convincing their parents,’’said the health director. She said the department aims to vaccinate 76 lakh children aged between 10 months and 15 years in Kerala. Of them, 12 lakh belong to Malappuram.

Government doctors heading the vaccination camps in Malappuram said the opposition against vaccination has gone up, compared to similar situations in the past.  “The other day, I had gone to 15 families who are opposing the immunisation. But we could win back only five of them. In many families, mothers don’t have the power to take decisions. Fathers would be abroad and the grandparents would be against immunisation citing that their children had survived without being vaccinated,’’ says Dr K Pramod, a paediatrician in district government hospital in Tirur, Malappuram.

Pramod said religious heads  and people’s representatives have extended support to the prog-ramme. However, a section of people believes that vaccination is a western agenda to bring down the population. They fear the dose being administered would adversely affect the health of children. Dr Haneefa Cherukara, the paediatrician at the community health centre, Valavannur in Malappuram, said his team had held camps in two schools in the last three days, but could not ensure complete coverage. In one lower primary school, 60 per cent of coverage could be achieved, while in another school it was 25 per cent,” said Dr Cherukara.

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