You read about it in the papers. You received numerous WhatsApp messages and this is all that moms are talking about at schools and bus stops. What is the latest controversy on the Measles- Rubella Vaccine? We dig further. Vaccinations are normally given in the first few years of a baby being born. But this latest vaccination drive has everyone wondering.
We asked Prof Ashok Kumar Dutta, Emeritus Consultant, Dept of Paediatrics, Indraprastha Apollo, Delhi on the things that parents are panicking about. Did you know that Measles is one of the most important causes of infant mortality and WHO looks to eradicate it completely through such planned drives and initiatives? Here’s what we asked the doctor about the drive and what parents have in mind.
Q.Kidsstoppress: What is this new health initiative?
A: Prof Dutta: WHO and government of india has taken this step of measles elimination as well as control fo congenital Rubella syndrome. I would like to highlight here that measles is one of the most high causes of mortality in children under the age of 5, so far as the vaccine preventable disease is concerned which are available in all developing countries including India. Which is why WHO has taken, like we have already eradicated smallpox and we are almost free from polio, and now it is the turn for measles vaccine, it is definitely a good vaccine and the disease can be prevented. One dose of measles is not good enough and that is why you need to give at least 2-3 doses of measles vaccine and goverment is starting this particular programme from 9 months of age. MR vaccine measles as well as rubella. Earlier at 9 months, only rubella was given but now we have started both. But before MR vaccine is started a mass campaign is required.
Q: Kidsstoppress: Basic question every parent has, is should they consent to giving this vaccine?
A: Prof Dutta: Yes, yes, yes. The first phase of this measles rubella vaccine has been successfully completed and was started in February 2017. It was started and completed in states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Puducherry and there more than 3.3 crore children upto the age of 15 have been vaccinated. It is estimated that in India 41 crore children under the age of 15 have to be vaccinated. Even the next phase of states including Andhra Pradesh, Dadra Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Telangana, Uttarakhand has also been completed. Now it is the turn of Maharashtra, Delhi etc for the vaccination. Even I have been getting a lot of calls from parents about whether they should give this vaccine or now. I say, it is an excellent vaccine, very little side effects and unless and until we give more than 90% coverage in the susceptible growth area, as a country we will not be having the herd immunity.
Q: Kidsstoppress: What are the side effects?
A: Prof Dutta: As far as rubella vaccine is concerned hardly any side effects, almost nil. It is an excellent vaccine. Measles vaccine may give rise t measles like rashes and fever after 7 days, But it is very mild fever, and very light rash and automatically after 2-3 days the fever and rash will disappear. Other than that there may be local pain the site of injection. So the side effects are also not dangerous.
Q: Kidsstoppress: What about media reports of sickness and even death due to this vaccine?
A: Prof Dutta: I don’t think anyone can die because of this vaccine. They are not true, even during pulse polio campaign there were reports of children dying and no one can die because of pulse polio either. I have been doing vaccination for more than 45 years of my career in oneof the biggest children’s hospitals and I have never seen deaths either due to MR vaccine or even oral polio vaccine. This is in national interest.
Q: Kidsstoppress: Is this voluntary? Can parents say no?
A: Prof Dutta: It is voluntary, nobody can force anything on your child. But for the interest of the country, one should give it. Who ever has approached me I have said please go ahead and give it, there will be no problem.
Watch this video to listen to Prof Ashok Kumar Dutta’s expert take on this immunization drive and if it will benefit kids and parents.