Aiming to eliminate measles and curb instances of rubella by 2020, the Center has rolled out the second phase of its measles-rubella (MR) vaccination campaign in the country. Nearly 3.4 crore children across eight states and union territories Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu — will be covered in this stage. While measles is a viral infection that can be fatal, congenital rubella syndrome is responsible for irreversible birth defects.
The Union health ministry’s campaign against the two diseases intends to cover approximately 41 crore children in a phased manner, making it the largest-ever worldwide. The first phase of the campaign was launched across five states Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Lakshadweep and Puducherry in February this year. “More than 3.3 crore children were vaccinated, reaching out to 97% of the intended age group,” a statement issued by the health ministry read. The drive was carried out at schools, community centers and medical institutes, covering children between the ages of nine months and 15 years. After the special drive is completed, the MR vaccine will be made a part of the routine immunization process — replacing the measles vaccine that’s currently being given between 9-12 months and 16-24 months after birth.
“The campaign aims to rapidly build up immunity for both measles and rubella diseases, so as to eliminate them. Therefore, all children should receive MR vaccine during the campaign,”.The MR vaccine is meant for every child in the prescribed age group, and can be administered even if they have already received it. The Measles-Rubella campaign is part of global efforts to reduce illness and deaths due to measles and rubella in the country. While measles immunization directly contributes to the reduction of under-five child mortality, it also prevents congenital rubella syndrome in combination with the rubella vaccine.