Over 1.21 crore children to receive polio vaccine
Over 1.21 crore infants and children in the State, below the age of five years, will be vaccinated against polio in the first vaccination drive of the year, which has been scheduled on Sunday (January 29). This will be the first National Immunisation Day, and the second such drive in Maharashtra, where infants will be administered the bivalent Oral Polio Vaccine (bOPV). Earlier, a trivalent vaccine capable of tackling all three types of polio viruses - type 1, type 2 and type 3 were administered. However, after it was found that type 2 virus has been completely eradicated, bOPV meant for type one and type three variants of polio viruses were introduced and made mandatory. The State health machinery estimates the forthcoming immunisation programme will cost about Rs 13 crore, which includes 2.18 lakh health workers working at as many as 84,782 vaccination booths across the State. India was declared polio free in 2014. Maharashtra last reported a polio case in 2010 in Beed. Some pockets have proven to be difficult areas for officials in the health ministry to administer vaccines. Selective corporations in and around Malegaon and Bhiwandi are among these problem areas, though officials are constantly trying to reach out to all infants living there. “Currently, there must be around 500 families who need to be convinced about this intervention programme. The same figure ran into thousands until a few years ago,” Dr Archana Patil, Additional Director (Family Welfare) said. While the Injectable Polio Vaccines (IPVs) are being distributed in select government centres including Primary Health Centres (PHC) and headquarters of government and district hospitals, the main reason for limiting the availability of IPV is to cater to more number of children. Hence, private practitioners have yet not been trusted with IPVs, said a Maharashtra Health Department official. “There is enough stock of IPVs to suffice at government-run centres,” the official said. The machinery also plans to focus also on migrants including labourers at brick kilns, construction sites, sugarcane cutters, etc. The second polio immunisation drive for children this year will be organised on April 2.