Nagaland targets measles, rubella elimination by year-end

Kohima: Nagaland’s health and family welfare department, on Saturday shared its commitment to achieve Measles-Rubella elimination by year end.

“The goal is to achieve and sustain MR Elimination with zero transmission of endemic Measles and Rubella (MR) cases and 95% vaccination coverage for MR vaccinations,” State Immunization Officer, Dr Imkongtemsu Longchar said.

According to the health official, the State has undertaken coverage analysis to target areas with poor MR vaccination coverage, and MR Elimination drives were undertaken during the months of April-May and August-September. Mop up vaccination is scheduled for November 20-30.

MR vaccines are given to children as a 2-dose vaccine at 9 months (MR1) and at 16-24 months (MR2). When a child takes the first dose but fails to take the subsequent dose, we call that as Left-Outs or Drop-Outs. The complete immunization dose has to be taken to get full benefits of the vaccination. For children who have missed out on the MR1 and MR2, the vaccine can be given till the child is 5 years of age. Hence, the MR Elimination Drive is a vaccination drive for children in the age of 9 months to 5 years for MR1 dose and dropped out children for MR2 dose.

As per the State data, the MR1 dose is at 96% and MR2 at 92% but there are inter-district variations, and the state aims to ensure that all the districts achieve more than 95% coverage.

“Reaching out to those Left-outs and Drop-outs is a priority in ensuring no child is left behind for life saving vaccination and complete protection against measles and rubella. To bridge this gap, the State has conducted three rounds of intensive vaccination rounds called Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) along with regular Routine Immunization (RI) at the health units and special immunization drives at certain districts where cases were detected,” the health official said.

As per State monitoring data, most of the households that did not take the complete immunization doses were because of fear of side effects and lack of awareness. Some children suffered slight fever, redness or swelling at the injection site, which is said to be normal.

“Those reactions go away by themselves. If fever persists, caregivers should consult with the healthcare worker. We, as a community, need to work together in spreading awareness on importance of uptake of preventive services like vaccinations and mobilizing caregivers to immunization sites,” the doctor said.

As advocacy and awareness are required to create demand generation of services, he said that the community needs to know the importance of immunising the child at the right age to ensure that the child receives full protection.

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Vaccines are available free of cost at all Government health facilities. Every unvaccinated or partially vaccinated child is at risk of life-threatening disease.

“A strong support from the community is required to sustain the immunization activities and we request allied departments, Faith Based Organizations (FBOs) Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Village Council Chairperson, Women leaders and members of IMA, IAP, IDA, Rotary, Lions Club and the community members in ensuring that all children under 5 years of age in the family or community complete their MR dose during this Mop-up round being held in the government Health Units,” the official added.

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