The health ministry’s nationwide vaccination campaign against measles and rubella is facing a problem in the form of panic and fear among parents who were worried after a few children complained of nausea and vomiting. In a bid to create more awareness the Pune municipal corporation (PMC) on its website gave detailed information about the measles rubella (MR) vaccination drive. Here HT collates all the information available separating fact from fiction The ministry of health and family welfare has launched a nationwide campaign to support World health organisation’s (WHO) campaign to eliminate measles and control rubella congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) by 2020. The drive is a part of this nationwide campaign and is been conducted in all schools in Pune.Just one shot of MR vaccine is effective for preventing both the diseases ( irrespective of earlier immunisation status or diseases). The PMC has formed medical teams and has co-ordinated with all the schools in the city. The vaccination programme has begun and will continue till December 28.The nationwide vaccination drive against MR kicked off in February 2017. The state of Maharashtra launched the MR campaign in November 2018.Till now 20 states/union territories have been covered by this campaign.The vaccination drive is currently on in eight states.More than 12.5 million children in the country have been re-vaccinated successfully.The vaccination is given to children between the age group of 9 months and 15 years. The MR vaccine will be given in all schools including government, private, missionary, Kendriya Vidyalaya and other schools. The PMC has a target is to reach 100 per cent kids in the city.Children between the age group of 9 months to 6 years who are not going to school, MR vaccine is available in specific government and Pune municipal corporation hospitals.In Pune the drive has targeted to cover at least 49 lakh children. Within six days of its launch the drive has already covered 10.44 lakh children, however 47 children have suffered from adverse effects and were taken to the hospital.Why vaccinate?The MR vaccine is given to children of the targeted age group both immunised and non-immunised, irrespective of whether the child has taken the vaccination prior. Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children even though a safe and cost-effective vaccination is available. The MR vaccine provides additional immunity boosting and protection from both measles and rubella.Rubella is contagious. It is a mild viral infection that occurs most often in children and young adults.Rubella infection in pregnant women may cause foetal death or congenital defects (like blindness, deafness, and heart defects) known as congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). Worldwide, over one lakh babies are born with CRS every year. There is no specific treatment for Rubella but the disease is preventable by vaccination.India accounts for approximately 37% of global measles deaths (49,200 measles deaths in 2015 out of total 1.35 lakh deaths). Measles vaccination has resulted in a 79% drop in measles deaths between the years 2000 and 2015 worldwide. During 2000-2015, measles vaccination prevented an estimated two crore (20 million) deaths making measles vaccination one of the best buys in public health.Dr Prashant Udawant, consulting paediatrician and member Indian academy of paediatrics (IAP) talks about the drive being safe:Firstly, parents should know that this is not an entirely government-run campaign but is jointly sponsored by the UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) and WHO, which are extremely high profile health organisations. Hence, there cannot be any questions raised on the quality of the vaccines and the drive as it is carried out only after proper training by the senior officials. Secondly, this vaccine is not only safe but is also necessary and can be given to a child who was vaccinated earlier. We are suggesting that parents allow their children to get vaccines in the schools because this is a target elimination programme of measles and rubella announced by WHO which should be achieved. This can be achieved only through proper vaccination drive where each and every target is covered.”‘Children should not take vaccine on empty stomach’: State health deptDr Sanjay Deshmukh, assistant director health services, Pune circle (Satara, Solapur, Pune) said, “We have successfully covered more than 10 lakh children in just six days which means every day we are covering 1.5 lakh children. Parents should come forward and participate in the vaccination programme to eliminate measles and rubella from the country.” He added, “Besides this, of the vaccinated children, hardly 47 in the Pune circle suffered from adverse reaction, of which 28 children were from PMC.”“Many children who were admitted post-vaccination were found to hypoglycemia which occurs when a person’s blood glucose level has dropped too low. Some children were already unwell and most of them were found to have taken the vaccine on an empty stomach. The vaccinators have been asked to be careful before administering the vaccine and making sure that the child has eaten as this is the first time both vaccines are being administered together,” he said.