Targets for India
India has set an ambitious target of eliminating measles and controlling congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), caused by the rubella virus, by 2020.
While two doses of measles vaccine given at 9-12 months and 16-24 months have already been part of the national immunisation programme, it is the first time that the rubella vaccine has been included in the programme.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), “a single dose of rubella vaccine gives more than 95% long-lasting immunity.”
All children aged nine months and 15 years will be administered a single dose of the combination vaccine.
What is Measles?
Measles is highly infectious and is one of the major childhood killer diseases.
What is Rubella?
Unlike measles, rubella is a mild viral infection that mainly occurs in children.
Deaths caused by Measles in India
Of the 1,34,000 measles deaths globally in 2015, an estimated 47,000 occurred in India.
Effects of the Rubella virus
The virus can cause hearing impairments, eye and heart defects and brain damage in newborns, and even spontaneous abortion and foetal deaths.
Of the 1,10,000 children born with congenital rubella syndrome every year globally, an estimated 40,000 cases occur in India alone.
Why we opted for a campaign?
With the target set for 2020 to eliminate measles and control CRS, there is a compelling need to create a solid wall of immunity in all children up to 15 years in one go at the earliest.
That can be achieved only if immunisation is carried out in a campaign mode by targeting 410 million children nationwide within 18 months. About 465 million doses will be required.
Rubella Vaccine campaign
Since the rubella vaccine will be add on to the measles elimination programme, there will be very little additional cost.
1. All children aged nine months and 15 years will be administered a single dose of the combination vaccine.
2. The entire country will be covered in four phases in 18 months.A ll children will receive the vaccine free at 9-12 months and 16-24 months of age.
3. Following the campaign, two doses of the combination vaccine will become a part of the national immunisation programme.
Is it possible to achieve the goal by 2020?
Though the goal is only to eliminate measles and control rubella by 2020, both viruses can be eliminated if their transmission can be broken.