The northern districts of Kerala, is popularly known as the “Malabar” and comprises of Kasaragod, Kannur, Kozhikode and Malappuram. It’s well known for the spicy biriyanis and other delicacies. Malabar is also the part of Kerala where Muslim religion has many followers and it was no surprise as these districts stood last in the list of Measles Rubella vaccination achievement.
On October 3, 2017 the Measles Rubella vaccination campaign kick-started in Kerala. It’s a one of a kind campaign where all children from 9 months to those studying in the tenth standard are given one shot of the Measles Rubella (MR) vaccine irrespective of their previous vaccination history.
You should definitely read the following articles if you’ve never heard of the MR vaccination campaign:
- Everything about Measles Rubella Vaccine
- Thoughts on the MR vaccination campaign after Week 1
- MR vaccination coverage, Weeks 2 to 4
Now that you’re back on this page, let’s continue with the story.
By November 1, our village’s MR achievement was just 44%. Apart from a few villages and municipalities, MR vaccination campaign had a similar picture in the whole of the Kannur district. If I remember correctly, Kannur was just above Malappuram district which had the lowest coverage in the state. It was then that the honourable District Collector decided to step in and save the children! And boy, he did a good job at it!
On the sixth of November, Mr. Mir Mohammed Ali, the District Collector of Kannur called a meeting of Schools which had just 20% achievement after the first visit. Principals, Headmasters, PTA presidents of such schools were asked to attend the emergency meeting at the Collectorate conference hall.
According to him, children’s future should be given more importance than the opinion of inadequately informed parents or others. He also noted that at some places, the objection to vaccination was not raised by the parents.
He urged the academic community to take responsibility of their children’s health saying that indifferences on their part should not make the children prone to such deadly diseases in the future.
“Heads of schools, PTAs, and school managements should take this responsibility” he said.
Awareness class on the safety, manufacturing process and efficacy of the vaccine was also part of that meeting. Doubts on the vaccine were answered by qualified professionals from the DMO office.
“Who will take responsibility if anything happens to the children?” asked one of the school Principal.
The Collector answered that the Government including the District Administration will bear the responsibility!
He even asked the reluctant parents to sign a declaration if they’re not at all willing to vaccinate their children. You can find a copy of that declaration here.
Collector’s review meeting was then held on 14th, 21st and 28th of November and each time, the number of schools that were invited decreased considerably.
According to this news report, the district coverage was 71% by the end of second week of November.
His message was very clear and direct. It should’ve struck the bull’s eye as there was an evident change in the attitude of teachers and school staff towards the campaign when we visited them again and again.
By November 30, when we mark the end to our MR vaccination campaign, our village’s achievement stands at 81.04% and the district achievement stands at 85%.
If you ask me, the honourable District Collector has made a real contribution in achieving this much coverage to an otherwise slow campaign. Kudos to him for the time and effort he took in protecting the children of Kannur.