Just because the world is hit by a deadlier pandemic, routine immunisation cannot be subsided/ignored, especially when the virus is spreading people weaker immunity
In the midst of navigating the pandemic, it is very important to take a moment from the Covid-19 crisis and turn our attention towards vaccine delivery – one of the viabilities of our healthcare system.
How one could ignore the importance of vaccines, which have controlled many serious diseases including some infectious ones, in the world; viruses like rotavirus, measles, polio, and diarrhea are also contained by the vaccine interventions.
Do you know, nine out of 10 babies get their first dose of the pentavalent vaccine that protects the baby against five pernicious illnesses; all the 5,000 health units, 600 rural health centers, and 7,500 first-level care facilities provide medical services, including vaccination.
Unfortunately, in the wake of Coronavirus and the lockdowns, this machinery is badly affected, all the fixed immunisation centers those who are located within basic health units are failed to cater to their catchment populations, even govt. outsourced ones have also shifted to the control of the Covid-19 outbreak. Resultantly, 90% of the vaccination points paint a picture of emptiness, the rising fear and panic due to Covid-19 increase also play a role, preventing people from bringing their babies for vaccination and other preventive services.
In 2019, there were 2,000 cases of measles reported — this was around six out of 10 children, the official vaccine estimates are not available so far, reportedly, around 500 cases were confirmed until February 2020, much higher than Jan-Feb 2019.
After that, there has been no official reporting of new cases since then due the lockdown but it is anticipated that the numbers will run into tens of thousands, largely due to low vaccination rates.
So what measures can be adopted to prevent this vaccine loophole?
A coordinated approach that should include stakeholders from the UNICEF, World Health Organization, the Expanded Programme on Immunization, healthcare workers, and academia, is a dire need. Whether this pandemic lasts long or contains shortly (which seems impossible) we should ensure that the children get the vaccination timely.