Doctors in the city(Noida) have alleged that the district health department is pulling the lives of children at stake in order to avoid being reprimanded for their mistakes from the state government. The health department has made it compulsory for all children below the age of 10 to receive measles vaccination in schools irrespective of whether they have received it previously or not. Free vaccines will now also be provided in private hospitals from December 10.
Private hospital doctors have called the move unnecessary and risky and pointed out that all vaccines have side-effects. This move, which targets 3.24 lakh children in the district, comes within a week of the health department receiving criticism for under-spending the resources allocated to them under the NRHM scheme.
The district health department started the drive on December 3, two days after an assessment meeting of the NRHM scheme of five division of western Uttar Pradesh, wherein free and compulsory immunization was given to schoolchildren. At the meeting, the principal secretary (health) criticized the districts, including Noida, for underutilization of resources allocated to them.
"All children below the age of 10, irrespective of whether they have received the vaccination or not before will have to take the vaccine. This increases their immunity to measles by 95%", said Nepal Singh, immunization officer.
Doctors in private hospitals said that not only are these vaccines not required for children who had undergone the first two rounds of immunization, they also had risks. "No vaccine is without its side effects. Most common side effects of the measles vaccine are fever or rashes. Severe reactions are possible but rare. But a third round of vaccination is not required," said Dr Shalini Tyagi, senior consultant, paediatrics, Fortis Noida.
Even though health department officials deny the charges, sources in the health department claim that the move is simply to finish the resources allocated under the NRHM scheme within the financial year. Meanwhile, a number of doctors whose children study in private schools have refused the 'compulsory' third round of immunization. "My child studies in a school in Noida and I have refused to let her take the booster shot," said Dr Kabir Sardana, a resident of Sector 28, Noida.