The Indian Health ministry is set to vaccinate 15-16 lakh children between the ages of nine months and 15 years against measles and rubella on November 26, 2018. India has teamed up with ten other South East Asian countries, to eliminate these deadly diseases, capable of causing lasting damage. To bring this aim to fruition, the Ministry of Health and Family initiated the measles-rubella vaccination campaign in phases to cover 41 crore children. The government aims to snuff out the diseases by the year 2020 by administering the measles-rubella vaccine (MR vaccine). The campaign has already been completed in 28 states and has covered 13 crore children.
Eliminating the disease in itself is a great challenge for the Indian government. What doesn’t help are the scaremongering rumours, that prevent parents from vaccinating their children against the deadly disease. In May, the death of a six-year-old in Bathinda after vaccination send the social media of the state into a tizzy. Parents who were ill-informed against the vaccine refused to have their kids immunised, adding to the Health Ministry’s woes.
Not immunising your children against these deadly diseases may have far-reaching, life-long consequences. To understand this, it’s important to know what measles and rubella are.
What Are Measles and Rubella?
Measles and rubella are highly-contagious viral diseases that can spread through contact. They are commonly transmitted through coughing and sneezing. 4 Vaccines That Should Be on Every New Born’s Chart.
Measles: Once infected with the measles virus, the person suffers from high fever, red watery eyes, cough, runny nose and a rash that spreads throughout the body.
The immune system gets weakened, leading to complications such as blindness, encephalitis, diarrhoea, lung infections, etc.
These complications can often cause measles-related deaths, one-third of which occur in India.
Rubella: Like measles, initial symptoms of rubella or German measles manifest as low-grade fever, rash, redness of the eyes, cough, runny nose and fatigue. It’s a viral infection that affects children and young adults. Apart from these symptoms, the person may also experience joint pain and swelling of lymph nodes.
Rubella infection during pregnancy can cause devastating consequences such as abortion. If the child survives the pregnancy, it may suffer from multiple birth defects such as blindness, deafness, heart defects, etc. in a condition known as Congenital Rubella Syndrome.
How To Protect Children From Measles and Rubella
Inoculation is the only weapon against the two diseases, because there are methods of treating them.
The vaccine is given at 9-12 months and between 16-24 months of age. In India, the MR vaccine is administered free of cost through the immunisation programme.
Is It Safe?
Previously, there was considerable paranoia about the vaccines and parents were refusing to inoculate their children with MR vaccine. But the medical fraternity ensures that the vaccine is safe. According to WHO, there are around 150 countries that are currently using measles and rubella vaccines. They have been shown to be safe and effective. Is Vaccination Safe for Your Child? Here’s What Every Parent Should Know about the MMR Vaccine.
Some side effects may be seen in children who’ve been given the MR vaccine, but the parents are advised not to be worried. Most of the side effects like low-grade fever, mild rash, etc., will go away on their own accord.
The vaccines distributed in India are produced in the country and are WHO approved.