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How safe is the new measles vaccine?

health and fitness Updated: Jan 31, 2017 13:47 IST
Sanchita Sharma
Representation Photo.

Representation Photo. (Reuters)

Should I get my child vaccinated against measles under the government programme? That’s the question everyone’s asking following therash of Whatsapp and FaceBook “alerts” flooding smartphones and laptops urging parents not to get their children vaccinated against measles and rubella (German Measles).

Under India’s new measles vaccination campaign, all children from ages nine months to 15 years will be vaccinated with the measles-rubella vaccine (MR-VAC) in five states -- Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Puducherry, Lakshwadeep on February 7, and Goa after the model code of conduct gets over after state elections.

Fake alerts, which include texts and audio clips, claim the vaccine is banned in the United States for causing serious side effects, including damaging a child’s immunity and memory and s being pushed in India by the global pharmaceutical industry looking for a market to dump their products.

Here's what you need to know about the measles vaccine:

* The vaccine, MR-VAC,is being used is made by the Serum Institute of India, which is the world’s largest producer of the vaccine.

* The vaccine is safe and approved for use by the World Health Organisation.

* Measles is a leading cause of child deaths even though it can be stopped using a safe and cost-effective vaccine.

* In 2015, measles killed 134,200 people globally – 15 deaths every hour.

* Measles vaccination has led a 79% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2015 worldwide.

* Between 2000 and 2015, measles vaccination prevented an estimated 20.3 million deaths.

* In 2015, about 85% of the world’s children received one dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday through routine health services – up from 73% in 2000.

* In India. 90% children receive the first dose of MMR under the universal immunisation programme, but only 50% receive the booster dose. About 15% of vaccinated children do not develop immunity from the first dose, so unless all the children are fully immunised, an outbreak is likely.

* Under India’s new malaria vaccination campaign, all children ages 9 months to 15 years will be vaccinated with the MR vaccine in five states -- Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Puducherry, Lakshwadeep on February 7, and Goa after the model code of conduct gets over after state elections.

* Around 40 million children will be vaccinated in these five states, after which the campaign will scaled up to include 410 million children under 15 years in all states and union territories by March 2019.

* A vaccine-preventable disease, measles is caused by a virus from the paramyxovirus family and spreads through air and direct contact. It causes symptoms of high fever that lasts 4 to 7 days, with a runny nose, a cough, watery eyes, and small white spots inside the cheeks developing in the initial stage. After several days, a rash erupts on the face and upper neck and then spreads to the hands and feet. On average, the rash occurs 14 days after exposure to the virus.

* MR-VAC protects children who’ve been missed as well as builds herd immunity in the community by lowering infection and with it, the virus in the environment. Much like polio, if the virus is eliminated in environment , everyone will become safe.