Single Vaccine for dual protection | PIB Summary

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched Measles Rubella (MR) Vaccine campaign in the country at a function in Bengaluru, here today.

Vaccine | Measles

Measles is a deadly disease and one of the important causes of death in children. It is highly contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing of an infected person. Measles can make a child vulnerable to life threatening complications such as pneumonia, diarrhoea and brain infection. Globally, in 2015, measles killed an estimated 1, 34,200 children—mostly under-5 years. In India, it killed an estimated 49,200 children.

Vaccine | Rubella

Rubella is generally a mild infection, but has serious consequences if infection occurs in pregnant women, causing congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), which is a cause of public health concern. CRS is characterized by congenital anomalies in the foetus and newborns affecting the eyes (glaucoma, cataract), ears (hearing loss), brain (microcephaly, mental retardation) and heart defects, causing a huge socio-economic burden on the families in particular and society in general. 

About the campaign

  • The campaign against these two diseases will start from five States/UTs (Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Goa and Lakshadweep) covering nearly 3.6 crore target children.
  • Following the campaign, Measles-Rubella vaccine will be introduced in routine immunization, replacing the currently given two doses of measles vaccine, at 9-12 months and 16-24 months of age.
  • The MR campaign targets around 41 crore children across the country, the largest ever in any campaign.
  • All children aged between 9 months and less than 15 years will be given a single shot of Measles-Rubella (MR) vaccination irrespective of their previous measles/rubella vaccination status or measles/rubella disease status.
  • MR vaccine will be provided free- of- cost across the states from session sites at schools as well as health facilities and outreach session sites.
  • After the completion of the campaign, MR vaccine will be introduced in routine immunization and will replace measles vaccine, given at 9-12 months and 16-24 months of age of child. 

Highlights of the campaign

  • Government has taken this as an achievable target. This shall be taken up in a mission mode and rolled out in partnership with States, NGOs and development partners such as WHO, UNICEF, Gates Foundation, Lions Club, IPA, IMA, etc.
  • In the nationwide campaign, the Ministry will reach out to and cover 41 crore children in the age group of 9 months – 15 years.
  • Government has urged parents, caregivers, community leaders, teachers, anganwaadi workers and other frontline health workers to become the active part of this campaign.

Background

Measles vaccine is currently provided under Universal Immunization Programme (UIP). However, rubella vaccine will be a new addition.

Conclusion

Measles immunization directly contributes to the reduction of under-five child mortality, and with combination of rubella vaccine, will control rubella and prevent CRS in country population. Given the wide target group of the vaccination campaign, schools and educational institutions will play a critical role, and will require partnership from multiple stakeholders at all levels. 

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