Centre ‘cancels’ mop-up round for JE vaccine, state says process delayed

The month-long mop-up round for Japanese Encephalitis (JE) vaccine, which was slated to start from December 1 in JE-affected districts of the state, has been refused permission by the Government of India on technical grounds.

While the state government, claims that the campaign has been postponed, central government officials claim that after two rounds of special immunisation drive against the disease, there is no need of another "campaign", but rather for strengthening the routine immunisation (RI) which already includes JE vaccination.

The state government had demanded 30 lakh vaccine dosage for a third round of JE vaccination mop-up campaign in the four affected divisions of eastern Uttar Pradesh including Gorakhpur, Basti, Azamgarh and Devipatan. As per a press release issued by the state government last month, Chief Secretary Jawed Usmani, in his review meeting on November 16, had instructed the officials that there should not be "any laxity in the campaign".

Gearing up for the campaign, health officials of the state had already prepared the list of children between 16 and 24 months, as well as those up to 15 years, who were to be covered in the immunisation campaign. The mop-up round was to be held from December 1 to 31.

Dr Rama Singh, Director General, Health (UP), however, claimed: "The campaign has been postponed and will begin very soon."

On the other hand, experts in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, maintain that the state does not need a campaign at all.

"A vaccination campaign is a technical decision. Uttar Pradesh already had two rounds of JE vaccination campaign in the years 2006 and 2010-11. After the campaigns, the vaccine is regularly being administered in the routine immunisation round for the new born babies. The need is to strengthen the routine immunisation of the state and improve the coverage rather than another round of vaccine campaign," explained Dr Pradeep Haldar, Deputy Commissioner, Immunisation, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

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