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Dec 23, 2008

Corporation's Special Effects To Cut Polio Rumours

The Coimbatore Corporation’s efforts are aimed at avoiding the panic that the rumours triggered on Sunday and led to thousands of children being brought to hospitals by fear-struck parents. The Coimbatore Corporation will carry out a special door-to-door drive from Tuesday to allay fears among the public over the quality of polio drops being administered during the immunisation drive. This follows the panic triggered by rumours on Sunday of children dying after being given the drops. The drive will include administering drops to children who have been left out.

Admitting that the rumours had reduced the turnout at the immunisation centres on Sunday, Mayor R. Venkatchalam said on Monday that the Corporation would make special efforts to cover the left-out children. This door-to-door effort by the civic body would be in addition to the one usually carried out a day after the immunisation. The Mayor explained that 1,11,696 children were to have been immunised at 196 centres in the city. But the achievement was only 92,000.

“This is only 82.5 per cent compared with the 104.5 per cent achieved last year,” he said. As against the target of 1,11,209 children in the 0-5 age group last year, 1,16,174 children were administered polio drops last year. This included even the floating population, he said. But, the Mayor said the difference between the figures of both the years only pointed at the impact the rumours had on the immunisation programme on Sunday. Apart from covering the left-out children, the Corporation also wanted to ensure that the rumours of December 21 do not impact the turnout at the next phase on February 1. “We will tell the people that the polio drops are safe,” the Mayor said.

In order to tell the people that no harm would come to their children from the polio drops, the Mayor pointed out that none of the 92,100 children who were given the drops on Sunday had developed any problem. “It is sad that the rumours derailed a good programme to prevent polio. But, we assure the people that the drops are safe for use. Therefore, they must make use of the door-to-door follow-up over the next three days and the regular immunisation programmes that are aimed at benefiting all sections, especially the poor,” Mr. Venkatachalam said.

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