While the country celebrated a year free of polio,health officials are now racing against time to ensure that several distribution centres across states receive their stock of the vaccine before the first national immunisation round is held on February 19. With 17.5 crore children set to receive the dose on Sunday,nearly 10 out of 50 sites in states like Maharashtra,Uttar Pradesh,Chhattisgarh are yet to receive the vaccine.
It will be a matter of concern if the vaccines do not reach the centres before the date. The target is of procuring 23 crore doses of vaccines. But it has fallen short due to technical hitches and problems related to procurement. However,now the consignments are being dispatched to the sites. All centres should receive the vaccines by Thursday evening, said Dr Pradeep Haldar,Deputy Commissioner,Immunisation,Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
What led to the delay was that a regular supplier of the vaccine,Panacea Biotec,was temporarily de-listed from the WHO list. It was only in November that we realised that the company will not supply trivalent polio vaccine for the two national immunisation rounds,usually held in January. Hence,the first national immunisation round will be held on February 19 and the second on April 1. There was a delay in the procurement as tenders had to be invited and vaccine from other companies needed to be tested at the Central drug laboratory,Kasauli. The machinery is well equipped to conduct the round with 23 lakh vaccinators across the country, Haldar added.
* Two years ago,741 were found polio-stricken nearly half the worlds cases that year
* Number of reported cases dropped to 42 in 2010 and 1 in 2011
* In 2011,900,000 doses of oral polio vaccine were given,immunising 172 million children,involving 2.3 million vaccinators who visited 200 million homes