India, along with ten other WHO South East Asia Region member countries, are working towards complete annihilation of measles and control rubella/congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). They have set 2020 the deadline. In this direction, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has initiated measles-rubella (MR) vaccination campaign in the age group of 9 months to less than 15 years in a phased manner across the nation. The campaign aims to cover approximately 41 crore children.
Under the Global Vaccine Action Plan, measles and rubella are targeted for elimination in five WHO Regions by 2020.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It remains an important cause of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine.
Measles is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons. Initial symptoms, which usually appear 10–12 days after infection, include high fever, a runny nose, bloodshot eyes, and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth. Several days later, a rash develops, starting on the face and upper neck and gradually spreading downwards.
While global measles deaths have decreased by 84 percent worldwide in recent years — from 550,100 deaths in 2000 to 89,780 in 2016 — measles is still common in many developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. An estimated 7 million people were affected by measles in 2016.
In India, measles affects an estimated 2.5 million children every year, killing nearly 49 000 of them. India has made important efforts and gains against measles in recent years. Measles deaths have declined by 51% from an estimated 100 000 in the year 2000 to 49 000 in 2015. This has been possible by significantly increasing the reach of the first dose of measles vaccine, given at the age of nine months under routine immunization programme, from 56% in 2000 to 87% in 2015. In 2010 India introduced the second dose of measles-containing vaccine in routine immunization programme to close the immunity gap and accelerate measles elimination. Nearly 118 million children aged nine months to 10 years were vaccinated during mass measles vaccination campaigns between 2010 and 2013 in select states of India.
Rubella is a contagious disease caused by a virus. It can lead to serious complications, especially for unborn babies. If a pregnant woman gets rubella, she can lose her baby. Babies born to mothers who had rubella can have birth defects that last a lifetime.
There are 2 vaccines that can prevent rubella:
- The MMR vaccine protects children and adults from rubella measles, and mumps
- The MMRV vaccine protects children from rubella, measles, mumps, and chickenpox
Rubella is a common infection in many areas of the world. Each year about 100,000 cases of congenital rubella syndrome occur. Rates of disease have decreased in many areas as a result of vaccination. There are ongoing efforts to eliminate the disease globally.
Rubella in India causes birth defects such as irreversible deafness and blindness in nearly 40 000 children every year.
MR Vaccination Campaign
India launched the ambitious Measles-Rubella (MR) vaccination drive in February 2017 in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Lakshadweep and Goa. It is the largest such effort anywhere in the world with the target to cover 405 million children in the age group of 9 months–15 years by 2019.
This massive public health effort has been undertaken in partnership at all the levels – Central government, state governments, development partners, civil society and a committed health workforce across the country.
The campaign once again demonstrates India’s commitment to improve health and well-being of its people by protecting children against vaccine preventable diseases.Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director for WHO South-East Asia.
As part of the MR campaign, as of early July 2018, 92 million children have been successfully vaccinated in 20 states across the country.
How to avail the vaccination?
Several states from South India and North East have already been covered under this MR (Measles and Rubella) Campaign. MR campaign has been introduced in Uttar Pradesh which began on 26th November.
All schools are to be covered under this MR campaign. If you have your children studying in schools, contact the school authorities and ask when will be the vaccination camp taking place. If your child does not go to school, you’ll have to wait for couple of weeks after which this vaccination can be done at any Govt Health Facility (PHC/CHC/Urban Health Centre/ District Hospital /Medical College). If your child has already been vaccinated, this is an additional dose for all the children.
Vaccination is free of cost and mandatory for all the children. Do not worry for the quality of the vaccination, it meets the highest standards. So, don’t hesitate and get your child vaccinated to save his/her future.