Shillong, May 7: Over 60,000 children in East Khasi Hills District are yet to get vaccinated with Measles-Rubella vaccines owing to misinformation and false beliefs.
Addressing a news conference here on Monday, Dr Robert R Marak, a nodal officer of the MR campaign in the district said there are many pockets of refusals among the community due to various reasons like personal, religious and social beliefs.
“It is more than five months (since the MR campaign was launched) till now we could not achieve the target (due to such refusals from parents),” Dr Marak lamented.
According to him, the whole exercise of the MR campaign would be futile and the virus transmission will not stop if the target is not achieved.
He said almost all the districts in the state have achieved the target of 95 per cent coverage in order to stop the virus transmission.
“In East Khasi Hills District, we could achieve only 79 percent coverage in which only 2.4lakh of 2.85 lakhs chidren were given measles-rubella vaccines,” Dr Marak while adding over 60,000 children remain unvaccinated.
India is committed to the goal of Measles elimination and control of Rubella/Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS) by 2020.
To achieve this goal, Measles-Rubella (MR) campaign was launched targeting all children from 9 months to 15 years of age. In Meghalaya, the target was to cover 11.5 lakh children.
Appealing to all such parents to get their children vaccinated, Dr Marak said, “We need to get these children vaccinated otherwise they will not be able to break the transmission of the disease and the virus would still be prevalent.”
Asked, he said villages where parents refused to get their children vaccinated include Jongsha, Diengiei, Diengpasoh, Mawryngkneng and others.
On the other hand, WHO Surveillance Medical Officer (SMO) Dr N Roy said a total of 326 measles cases were reported in Meghalaya of which majority were from East Khasi Hills District last year.
This year, he said of 2353 measles reported in India, 18 cases were from Meghalaya adding East Khasi Hills District was with 6 and Jaintia Hills 7.
“It is evident that measles cases are occurring and the effect of the vaccine is visible as most of the measles cases are occurring in children who have not received the vaccines,” Dr Roy said.
He said in 2018 and this year, there are increase cases of measles globally and country like America has got the maximum number of measles cases (700) and this was because of the rumours against the vaccines adding there are more than 338 deaths from measles in Philipines.
Earlier in his appeal, Deputy Commissioner cum Chairman of the District Health Society, NHM Abhishek Bhagotia said it is very important to ensure that all these children get the MR vaccination during this campaign in order to buildup immunity in the community for both measles and rubella by immunizing the target children with a single dose of MR vaccines and also provides a second opportunity for children left out in routine immunization.
“I would like to appeal to all the parents who have not immunized their children to come forward and get their child vaccinated with MR vaccine at the nearest health centres both government and private hospital. It is given free of cost,” the DC said.