After mitral regurgitation, mental retardation and medical reimbursement, there’s a new kid in the block for the MR family of medicine and it’s the Measles – Rubella vaccine.
By July 31 of 2017, there’s going to be a massive change in the current routine vaccination schedule in Kerala. The measles only vaccine given at 9 months to infants will be replaced by the combination vaccine which gives added protection against Rubella too. And things doesn’t end just there!
This article is to briefly introduce the key points of the new Measles Rubella (MR) vaccine campaign that’s about to be launched in July 31.
Measles, Rubella, CRS & Vaccines
Both measles and rubella are viral diseases that are truly vaccine-preventable.
Must Read: Why vaccinate your Child?
Measles is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus. An estimated 49000 children die from post-measles complication annually, making it one of the leading causes of child deaths in the country-measles cab be prevented by immunizing children with the safe and effective measles vaccine.
Similar is the case with Rubella, an equally infectious yet mild and self limiting viral illness affecting both children and adults However, when Rubella infection happens in the first or second trimester of pregnancy, it can lead to congenital Rubella syndrome (CRS) resultting to spontaneous abortions, stillbirths and babies born with serious multi-organ congenital anomalies, including blindness and deafness, etc. causing a life full of disabilities. An approximate 30000 annual casess of CRS are reported across the country! All this can be prevented with the rubella vaccine and that’s a fact.
If you are familiar with the current routine vaccination schedule that is being carried out in India, you already know that measles is given as a single dose of subcutaneous shot at 9 months and rubella vaccine is given primarily as a combination dose as MMR (mumps, measles & rubella) vaccine. In some states (including Kerala), rubella vaccine was given as a single dose to all the teenage girls (above 14 years) as part of the Rubella prevention programme which combed in 2014.
Although measles vaccination confers immunity in 85% of children when given at 9-12 months of age and in 95% of children when they get immunized at 16-24 months of age, a substantial number of children remain unprotected even if they are vaccinated. Hence an MR Campaign offers an opportunity to the susceptible group of children to get vaccinated and overall to boost population immunity against measles and rubella across the country. This can be achieved through a massive campaign to ensure the maximum coverage of MR vaccine in all the states.
The Measles Rubella (MR) vaccine Campaign
As part of sustainable development goals, the Government of Kerala has decided to launch MR Vaccination campaign on July 31 for elimination of measles and prevent congenital rubella syndrome, and rubella.
Government of India has decided to eliminate measles and control Rubella by 2020. For this, MR Vaccines are given through campaign. India has also been able to achieve Small pox eradication and Polio elimination through campaigns as per WHO recommendations. MR Vaccination campaign is being carried out in many other countries as well. Last year Kerala state alone had 4 reported measles death! Other morbid post-measles complications like encephalitis, can be prevented if measles is eliminated.
MR Vaccination Campaign in Kerala will start from July 31. All children from 9 months to 15 years (10th Std.) will be given one dose of MR Vaccine. The vaccine will be administered subcutaneously (not in the muscle and hence painless!) on the right upper arm. It will be given to all these children irrespective of their previous vaccination status. MR Vaccines are safe and effective and the chances of adverse effects following vaccinations are meagre.
Also Read: A different approach to Vaccination – The Immune Walk programme
The campaign also comes with a big change in our routine immunization schedule as the single “measles only” vaccine given at 9 months will be replaced by the new and improved MR vaccine.
In the first few weeks, schools and kinder-gardens will be covered. Later, the campaign will be extended by conducting out-reach and fixed immunization sessions. We have an estimated 8000 children at our panchayat who stand eligible for the MR vaccine!
Next couple of weeks are the preparation time for the MR vaccine campaign. We have to conduct inter-sectoral meetings participating all the departments primarily the education and social service departments. PTA meetings have to be called for to introduce and facilitate the MR vaccine campaign.
Lastly, the MR vaccine campaign needs your support and active participation. Make sure that all the children in your family aged 9 months to 15 years get the free dose of this crucial vaccine and help them prevent measles and rubella.
We can only do this one way and that’s – together!