Mumbai: State, schools still caught in vaccination confusion

Dec 08, 2018, 11:50 IST | Pallavi Smart

Health department says M-R vaccination a choice, schools say compulsory; parents in a panic

Mumbai: State, schools still caught in vaccination confusion
Children hold up certificates after being administered the M-R vaccine

Confusion around the government's Measles and Rubella (M-R) vaccination drive doesn't seem to end. City schools have now been issued with directives to ensure 100 per cent attendance on the day of the vaccination as also to upload details of all the students who are vaccinated immediately on the online portal to ensure real-time updates. Yet, the state health department has said the vaccination is not mandatory. This has led to much uncertainty among parents who have already vaccinated their children.

The state government's M-R Vaccination drive where kids from in the age group of 9 months to 15 years are vaccinated has been questioned in the past too following several apprehensions around it. When the drive first began, parents were confused as most children had already been vaccination in infancy. Also, some children had reported reactions to the medicine, further scaring parents. When mid-day reported this issue, a state government officer had said the vaccination was not compulsory.

"Schools can counsel parents with help from experts so that their doubts are cleared. But no parent can be forced. It is a part of health department policy to ensure complete eradication of measles and rubella. However, if any parent refuses to consent, the vaccine cannot be administered to the child," said Dr Sanjeev Kamble, director of health services, Maharashtra.

This is, however, in contradiction to the education department's circular asking for complete attendance and vaccination. Dated December 5, the circular states, "Low attendance on the day of the vaccination leaves some children out of this drive. This won't help the objective of 100 per cent vaccination against M-R. Hence it is important that schools ensure complete attendance."

'Not vaccine, girl has pneumonia'
A Std V girl took ill a day after M-R vaccination drive was held at the Gurunanak School in Sion. Even as it is now clarified that her illness was not related to the vaccine, the timing of her illness led to major panic among parents. The doctor treating her said, "The child has pneumonia and it is absolutely not related to the vaccine." Tarkeshwar Prajapati, father of Gungun Prajapati, who is currently admitted in the ICU of Sion Hospital, said, "She has been unwell since the day she got the vaccine. She had a consistent high fever."

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