GAYA: Virtually declaring war against Japanese encephalitis (JE), the disease that took an epidemic form last year, the state government on Sunday unveiled the roadmap to eradicate JE through comprehensive and 100% immunization of all children in the 1-15 age group in Gaya and Aurangabad districts.
The JE eradication campaign is to formally begin on November 22 and the target is to secure hundred per cent immunization in three weeks. The campaign period may be extended by a couple of days in remote and inaccessible areas.
Elsewhere in the state, administration of anti-encephalitis vaccine is being made part of the routine immunization process. Children out of school, too, will be covered during the campaign.
Formally announcing the strategy to contain encephalitis and ensure total eradication, principal secretary, health, Vyasji, told mediapersons in Gaya on Sunday evening that a comprehensive survey of children vulnerable to the JE virus had been completed and about 23 lakh [2.3 million] children in the 1-15 age group belonging to both the sexes have been identified for mass immunization in the two districts of Magadh division. About 14.82 lakh [1.482 million] vulnerable children are in Gaya district while another 8.49 lakh [849,000] are in Aurangabad district.
Admitting to shortcomings in the immunization programme undertaken about three years back, Vyasji said that the health officials had learnt the right lessons from past mistakes and a near foolproof strategy has been worked out this time to ensure target achievement and maintenance of the vaccine preservation protocol. The vaccine has to be kept at a temperature of 2-8 degree celsius and effective steps have been taken to maintain the cold chain. The vaccine vial undergoes change of colour in case of protocol violation and the health staff have been properly trained to identify the genuineness of the vaccine.
Dispelling the impression that only children belonging to the poor and less privileged sections are vulnerable to Japanese encephalitis, Vyasji made it clear that the virus does not make any artificial differentiation between its potential victims on the basis of income and status and as such, universal immunization was a must for the campaign's success.