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Dec 24, 2008

Corporation's Effect To Remove Fears Over Polio Drops

A Coimbatore Corporation health worker administers polio drops to a boy in the city on Tuesday. Public health teams across the district encountered on Tuesday hesitation among parents in administering polio drops to children who were left out because of Sunday’s rumours of a child dying in Erode district and another in Perambalur district after taking the drops. Denying it was resistance or even reluctance, health officials maintained that people appeared only undecided on whether to get their children immunised in the wake of the rumours. Only very few people showed hesitation while many of the children left out during Sunday’s programme could be covered in the door-to-door follow-up on Tuesday across the district, Deputy Director of Health Services V. Vijayalakshmi said.

The official claimed that 95 per cent of the target of 5.3 lakh children in the district was covered till Tuesday evening. But, she admitted that the rumours certainly denied the usual 100 per cent that was achieved on the day of the pulse polio immunisation programme. In the city, the Corporation got into its special drive of sending 20 teams across all the 72 wards to tell the people that it was safe to give the polio drops to children.

Normally, only the health workers went on the door-to-door follow-up. This time, the doctors were also a part of this exercise in order to explain that everything about the polio drops was safe. Councillors were also involved in allaying fears among the people. Of the more than 1.1 lakh children in the 0-5 age group, only a little more than 92,000 were covered on Sunday. Another 250 were covered on Monday in the usual follow-up. On Tuesday, the coverage was 14,269 children. With 95 per cent coverage till Tuesday, the special drive hoped to achieve 100 per cent soon, according to Corporation Commissioner Anshul Mishra.

Till Saturday, 35 doctors, 33 sanitary inspectors, 130 multi-purpose health workers and 40 sanitary workers would be on the job of convincing people that the polio drops would cause no harm to their children and achieve total coverage in immunisation. Dr. Vijayalakshmi also pointed out that till Monday, the overall coverage in the Coimbatore Urban Health District was only 72 per cent. his pointed at the impact of the rumours. But, things improved on Tuesday, she said. A sanitary inspector said that the fear among the people had not totally gone. The most common question was whether poor quality of the polio drops could kill the children.

Some of the field level staff were of the view that the door-to-door sensitisation drive should continue for a month so that people did not fall victim to such rumours during the immunisation programmes to follow. r. Vijayalakshmi explained that the cold chain was maintained properly to retain the potency of the polio vaccines. accine vial monitors were available to indicate any decrease in or loss of potency. During the immunisation programme, the vaccines are spent quickly.

Each vial contains 20 doses. And, each child is given two drops that make for one dose. So, one vial gets empty in 10 minutes. Therefore, there is no room for using substandard vaccine,” she said. The Tirupur Corporation has achieved 92.78 per cent coverage in the pulse polio immunisation campaign conducted in the city over three days ending Tuesday, which included door-to-door drive conducted on the last two days to cover the leftout children.

For the second consecutive day on Tuesday, medical staff deployed by the Corporation refused to administer the vaccination at the doorsteps of the residents expressing fear of getting attacked by the public following sporadic incidents of violence during the programme in the city on Sunday. In the circumstances, elaborate arrangements were made to vaccinate the children leftout on Sunday at the Corporation-run maternity and health centres amid tight police security. On Sunday, only 89.6 per cent of the targeted 50,000 children aged between zero and five years could be vaccinated owing to spread of rumours regarding the quality of polio drops used in the crusade.

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