Kohima, 18 November (MTNews): State Immunization Officer, Dr Imkongtemsu Longchar, has called for strong community support to sustain immunization activities for eliminating Measles and Rubella (MR) in the state. Nagaland, along with the rest of the country, is on a quest to achieve Measles Rubella Elimination by December 2023. The goal is to achieve and sustain MR Elimination with zero transmission of endemic Measles and Rubella (MR) cases and a 95% vaccination coverage for MR vaccinations.

Dr Longchar, through a press release, informed that, as per available data, Nagaland’s MR1 dose is at 96%, and MR2 is at 92%. However, there are inter-district variations, and their goal is to ensure that all districts achieve more than 95% coverage.

According to state data, Dr Longchar informed that most households did not take the complete immunization doses due to concerns about side effects and a lack of awareness. Regarding side effects, Longchar explained, “Some children may get a slight fever or redness or swelling at the injection site, but that is normal. These reactions go away by themselves.” In case fever persists, he advised caregivers to consult with healthcare workers.

“We, as a community, need to work together to spread awareness about the importance of preventive services like vaccinations and mobilize caregivers to immunization sites,” he said. In this regard, he requested all allied departments, Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Village Council Chairpersons, Women leaders, and members of IMA, IAP, IDA, Rotary, Lions Club, and community members to support in ensuring that all children under 5 years of age in the family or community complete their MR dose during this Mop-up round being held in the Govt Health Units.

It may be noted that MR vaccines are given to children as a 2-dose vaccine at 9 months (MR1) and at 16-24 months (MR2). When a child takes the first dose but fails to take the subsequent dose, it is called Left-Outs or Drop-Outs.

“The complete immunization dose has to be taken to get the full benefits of the vaccination. For children who have missed out on the MR1 and MR2, the vaccine can be given until the child is 5 years of age. Hence, the MR Elimination Drive is a vaccination drive for children in the age of 9 months to 5 years for MR1 dose and dropped-out children for MR2 dose,” Dr Longchar explained.

“Reaching out to those Left-outs and Drop-outs is a priority in ensuring no child is left behind for life-saving vaccination and complete protection against measles and rubella,” added Dr Longchar.

Nagaland, according to Dr Longchar, has undertaken coverage analysis to target areas with poor MR vaccination coverage, and MR Elimination drives have been undertaken during the months of Apr-May and Aug-Sept. He said Mop-up vaccination is scheduled for 20-30 November 2023.

Meanwhile, to reach out to those Left-outs and Drop-outs, the State has conducted three rounds of intensive vaccination rounds called Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) along with regular Routine Immunization (RI) at health units and special immunization drives in certain districts where cases were detected.

“Advocacy and awareness are key areas required in the community to create demand generation of services. The community needs to understand the importance of immunizing the child at the right age to ensure that the child receives full protection,” stated Dr. Longchar. It may be noted that vaccines are available free of cost at all Government health facilities, and every unvaccinated or partially vaccinated child is at risk of a life-threatening disease.

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