Tamil Nadu government may make rubella vaccination mandatory for under-15 children

Schools need to stop taking the consent of parents when it comes to vaccinations, says the government, warning that if required, it will intervene to make the measles-rubella vaccination mandatory.

Curated by Times of India

The Tamil Nadu health department on Tuesday said it may make measles-rubella vaccination mandatory for all children below 15 years if parents continue to resist administering the vaccine for their kids.

The state had planned to give the vaccine to more than 1.8 crore children –between nine months and 15 years — in schools and health centres by the end of February. This is nearly a quarter of the state’s population.

On Tuesday, officials said only 85 lakh children were given the vaccine. The drive has now been extended by another fortnight.

“Several school managements have needlessly sought consent of parents. Children, who had not received the consent, did not get the vaccine. This has been a major hurdle in the mass vaccination drive. The Public Health Act allows us to administer vaccine without consent. If need be, we will make it mandatory,” said health minister C Vijaya Baskar.

Officials from the health and education departments held a brainstorming session where they decided to seek support from parent-teachers associations to convince more parents in the next few days.

“Our ambassadors are the 85 lakh children who have been vaccinated. We are confident of convincing all,” said school education secretary D Sabitha.

Meanwhile, director of public health Dr K Kulandaisamy said the vaccine would also be available at state-run medical college hospitals and other district hospitals.

The live and attenuated vaccine is administered as a 0.5ml dose through the subcutaneous route on the right arm. A doctors and a team of nurses, besides anganwadi workers, teachers and volunteers, would be involved in the mop up programme, he said.

t is the first phase of the vaccination drive by the Union ministry of health and family welfare in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Puducherry and Lakshadweep.

By April, the measles-rubella vaccine will replace the measles vaccine for children under two years in the state.

Rubella, or German measles, is a contagious viral infection that causes a distinctive red rash. Though there are no statistics on its prevalence, the health ministry says the disease is endemic in India. It spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes and can also be passed on from mother to the newborn. The disease causes devastating defects such as heart diseases, blindness and brain disorders if pregnant women get the infection in the first few weeks of pregnancy.

Experts say more than two lakh children in India and at least 2,000 in Tamil Nadu are born deaf, blind, or with heart or brain damage every year due to the congenital rubella syndrome.

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