The MR Vaccine – Old Wine in New BottleMeasles Rubella vaccination campaign kickstarted in Kerala on the third of October, 2017. Thoughts on the first week of the campaign in a small village of Kannur district was published earlier and you can find that article here. This article is a sequel to that post and will be covering the activity details of the MR campaign in the same village till October 31. If you’re still here, you’ll definitely like the rest of the post!
MR Campaing Calendar
The first visit to the two biggest schools in the village was done in the second and third weeks. And as expected, the number of children who came forward for vaccination was meagre. Important dates and details of actual vaccination in each school are summarised below:
October 12: VMUP School 70 out of 460 vaccinated
October 13: Government boy’s high school, Madayi 130 out of 230 students vaccinated
October 16: “HARTAL” One day lost! Programme planned at PJHS, one of the biggest schools in the village with more than 1300 students had to be re-scheduled.
October 17: First visit to PJHS, a government aided school at Puthiyangadi. ASHA workers had to reach the school early in the morning to clean the allotted ‘smart’ room which was going to be used as the vaccination site. Only one or two teachers showed up at the vaccination site when the session started and they left immediately as if they had no role to play there. Students were coming at their will to get vaccinated and there was no kind of organization whatsoever. At the end of the session, 410 students had been vaccinated. A good achievement considering that the health workers had to canvas students from every class and motivate them for the vaccination. At one point during the session, I went to the Principal’s office to make a microphone announcement to students explaining about the health benefits of the MR vaccine.
October 19: When we reached the Wadihuda school, the Principal greeted us with these words – ” I didn’t knew that today there was going to be a vaccination session in my school. We have sent consent letters to the parents and have not yet checked as to which parents are willing or not. Anyway, I’ll arrange the “student’s sick room” for the vaccination purpose, but please give me some time.”
A teacher was present at the registration table to check whether the student had actually submitted the consent letter with full permission from his/her parents. Students without the consent letter were sent back to their classes!
Students were led to the vaccination site by the concerned class teacher. The whole process was well organised, but the only problem was that only a few students actually got the vaccine from each class. At the break time, children who wanted to take the vaccines were sent back because of the teachers were not ready to face the wrath of angry parents!
“Parents will come here tomorrow and ask us why their children were vaccinated without their permission and we are not willing to face or answer them”
Only 165 students got the MR vaccine that day out of a possible 600. About 1700 remaining student’s vaccination status depended on their parent’s decision. It was a frightening situation considering that this was the biggest school in the village.
An awareness class for the parents of kinder-garden kids was planned on 23rd October and a PTA meeting for the whole school (excluding KG) was decided to be held before the next visit.
October 20: Visited Fazl-e-Omar public school where the session was conducted in a well organised manner. 301 out of 380 students got their MR vaccine. That same day GMUP school at Payangadi was also visited where only 60% was the achievement.
October 23: We reached Wadihuda school by 9.30 and waited for the parents of the kinder-garden kids to arrive. At their auditorium on the second floor, only 50 odd parents had showed up for the awareness class. This was poor attendance as there were about 400 kids in the kinder garden alone. I took a 20 minutes brief class on Measles, Rubella and the potential complications, safety of the vaccine. Two parents were very much concerned about the safety of the vaccine and had many false thoughts about it. I had to clear their doubts citing examples and I was glad that 45 of those parents showed up at the vaccination site immediately after the class to get their kids vaccinated. That day the total achievement from the whole school was 230.
October 24: A brief chat with the Principal of PJHS Puthiyangadi turned out to be fruitful as students attended the vaccination room in an orderly way. It was a considerable improvement when compared to the first visit to the same school. A couple of teachers also showed up to help the health workers after receiving instructions from the Principal. Here students could be motivated to take the vaccine and the teachers were not that much concerned about the parent’s permission stuff! A different picture when compared to the un-aided private schools. 350 more students took the painless shot that day and we were surprised to be honest with the result.
October 25: Program was conducted at GWUP school which was less than a kilometre away from the PHC. 160 under 12 year children got vaccinated out of 215. The close proximity to the PHC made it possible to conduct the program on a Wednesday when usually only UIP (universal immunization programme) are conducted.
October 26: I’ve taken more than a dozen classes on MR vaccine and I can easily say that the most effective ones were the classes at GMUP school Puthiyangadi and MECA school. The class was followed by the usual questions and doubts, whatsapp videos and forwarded messages. The second visit to MECA school (after the talk) yielded 205 more students and that made their achievement to 55% from 10% on the first day.
Mr Ramachandran, the Principal and the PTA President of the GMUP school flagged off the session at their school by self vaccinating themselves. A bold move which none of the other schools can boast about and it turned out to be very helpful. 80% of 500 students in that UP school got the shot. The cooperation from the teachers was also worth mentioning. One of the best government schools I’ve ever visited to be honest.
October 27: The last day of our first round visit to schools was on this day when we held MR vaccination programmes at two schools. The previous day’s delight was spoiled by the lack-lustre vaccination rates at Rahmaniya school where only 36 out of 330 kids were willing to take the vaccine shot. The lowest achievement of all the schools in our village!
PJHS, english medium UP school was much better. More than 60% of students there got vaccinated.
October 28 to 31: As all the schools had been visited at least once and some schools twice, sessions were planned and held at Anganwadis at the outskirts of the village. An average of 40 under 5 children were administered the MR vaccine in each site and usually two Anganwadis were visited in a day.
October 31 was an important day for our MR campaign and that needs a separate post. It was a long day and I’ll be writing it down shortly.
Wait for the District Collector’s Crucial Role in the next few articles on MR campaign.