More than 16 lakh children took a dose of the measles-rubella vaccine in West Bengal on Monday, the first day of the five-week special drive to vaccinate kids between nine months and 15 years against the two diseases, said a state health department official.
Across the state, campswere held in 7,803 schools to vaccinate children.
In Kolkata, about 26,000 children were vaccinated. An official of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) said the doses were given in 245 schools in the city.
The shots are also administered from all ward health clinics of the KMC, but the turnout there was low on Monday. In the first three weeks, vaccination camps will be held in schools.
Around 2.5 crore children in West Bengal are eligible to get a dose of the vaccine, the health department official said. In Kolkata alone, 12 lakh children are eligible for the dose.
This single-dose measles-rubella (MR) vaccine is being administered across the state as part of a special drive aimed at reducing the incidence of the diseases. The special drive has already been undertaken in almost all other states of the country.
The measles-rubella vaccine was included in the government immunisation programme for children two to three years back. So there are many who have not received the dose. The special drive will give families an opportunity to get their kids vaccinated, a health department official said.
In private clinics, an MMR vaccine that protects against mumps, measles and rubella is administered if families are willing to pay. At government centres, the MR vaccine is given for free.
“Those who have already taken an MR or MMR shot can again take the special dose provided the earlier shot was taken at least four weeks ago,” said Mihir Sarkar, professor of paediatric medicine at the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital.
A KMC official said they had expected to vaccinate about 38,000 children on Monday. But the turnout in many schools was less than expected. “We hope the rate picks up over the next few days,” said the official.