Bengaluru, Feb 5: With an aim to eradicate Rubella and Measles from India, the Union Health Ministry on Sunday launched the Measles-Rubella vaccination campaign here, targeting 41 crore children across the country.
According to the ministry, after the campaign the MR vaccine will be introduced in routine immunisation, replacing the two doses of measles vaccine given to children at 9-12 months and 16-24 months of age. "The government is committed to eradicating Measles and Rubella from the country. We have taken this as an achievable target. This shall be taken up in a mission mode and rolled out in partnership with state governments and NGOs, among others.
"In this nationwide campaign, the ministry will reach out to and cover 41 crore children in the age group of 9 months to 15 years," said Faggan Singh Kulaste, Minister of State for Health, at the campaign launch. The campaign will first be launched in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Goa and Lakshadweep, covering nearly 3.6 crore target children. However, it will later be extended to cover the entire country.
According to a Helath Ministry statement, all children aged between nine months and less than 15 years will be given a single shot of MR vaccination irrespective of their previous measles/rubella vaccination status or measles/rubella disease status. "MR vaccine will be provided free of cost across the states from session sites at schools as well as health facilities and outreach session sites," the ministry said.
Measles is a deadly disease and one of the main causes behind child mortality in the country. It is highly contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing. Globally, in 2015, measles killed an estimated 1,34,200 children, mostly under the age of five years. In India, it killed an estimated 49,200 children.
Rubella is generally a mild infection, but has serious consequences if infection occurs in pregnant women, causing congenital rubella syndrome, which is a cause of public health concern. Currently, Measles vaccine is provided under Universal Immunisation Programme. Rubella vaccine will be a new addition.