Polio-free tag taken for granted, residents skip vaccination camps
A year since the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared India polio-free, citizens have almost stopped taking their infants to the vaccination booths in Gurgaon. Experts warn that this is a disconcerting trend as neighbouring countries such as Pakistan have not eradicated the disease.gurgaon Updated: Mar 11, 2015 10:26 IST
A year since the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared India polio-free, citizens have almost stopped taking their infants to the vaccination booths in Gurgaon.
Officials say that people turned up at their booths in big numbers but now people are not very concerned about the disease.
Surprisingly, most of the parents avoiding the vaccination camps happen to be from affluent families.
“We try to encourage people to come to the booths as it is still very important to get regular vaccination done. But we are seeing fewer people, especially from the more affluent families, coming to the booths for vaccination nowadays,” said Dr Pushpa Bishnoi, civil surgeon, Gurgaon.
Experts warn that this is a disconcerting trend as neighbouring countries such as Pakistan have not eradicated the disease.
However, this could also mean the health department’s drive has been reliably effective.
According to district health department, just 50% of the vaccination targets are met at booths while more than 100% of the targets are met during door-to-door drives. Earlier the turnout use to be over 90%.
Over 2,000 health workers are employed in Gurgaon for every pulse polio drive conducted five times a year.
Around 3.5 lakh children below the age of five years are vaccinated in the district during each such drive.
The first day of the vaccination drive is usually at the booth while it is supplemented with door-to-door vaccination in the next three days.
Doctors say that people don’t come out as they are confident that health workers will reach their homes.
But most often the workers find their homes locked.
“Another problem is that people are losing interest and confidence in the vaccination process. They see no end to the vaccine that is to be taken several times every year since it was started in 1995,” said Dhirendra Tyagi, World Health Organisation consultant, Gurgaon region.
He said that the booth turnout used to be over 90% earlier, which has reduced to 50- 60% now in most districts.
This, he says, is a disconcerting trend as there is still need to be alert, especially in the region close to Pakistan where the disease has still not been eradicated.