TN govt justifies change in vaccination programme

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Chennai, May 28 (UNI) The Tamil Nadu government today defended its decision to change the vaccination programme following the deaths of four infants after being administered measles vaccine last month.

State Health secretary V K Subburaj, in a statement here, said the new system of administering vaccines to infants and pregnant women under the direct supervision of medical officers was widely welcomed by the people, especially in rural areas.

After the tragic death of four infants in Thiruvallur district, the state government had dispensed with the system of allowing village nurses to administer vaccines to infants.

In the last three weeks, the vaccination programme had been carried out in more than 8,000 medical centres and villages by teams under the direct supervision of medical officers, he said, dismissing as false, the statement given by a section of nurses association that the new system was a failure as vaccination was done only in 1,400 centres in the state.

Mr Subburaj said when the vaccination programme was launched in 1985, there were only 385 primary health centres in the state and the authorities were forced to go to the doorsteps of the people to administer the vaccines. Now, a PHC was functioning for every 30,000 people and 1,421 PHCs were functioning with adequate vehicles and other infrastructural facilities in the state.

Under the new system, people were brought to the PHCs where the infants were administered vaccines after complete examination by a medical officer. Teams, headed by a medical officer, also visit the villages to administer vaccines, he added.

Unlike in the beginning, when only a couple of vaccines were administered to the children, more than six vaccines, including one for Japanese Encephalitis, have to be given to the children, which involved a complex process, the official said.

Mr Subburaj said the village nurses, hitherto administering vaccines after visiting villages, also feel safe and comfortable to administer the shots under the supervision of medical officers.

A majority of village nurses welcomed the new system and only a section of them opposed it, he added.

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