I've been dreading the inevitable return of seasonal encephalitis reports from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. So this Times of India report offers some encouragement: Vaccination drive against Japanese Encephalitis in three dists from May 5. Excerpt:
PATNA: Bihar government is going to launch a special vaccination drive against Japanese Encephalitis (JE) from May 5 in three districts: Jamui, Sheikhpura and Lakhisarai. In the special drive, children in the age of 1-5 will be administered the JE vaccine.
Last year 12 cases of JE were detected in Bihar. JE vaccination campaign was launched in 2007 and till date, 19 districts of districts of the state have already been covered, said state immunization officer Dr N K Sinha. They include Patna, Nawada, Bhojpur, Muzaffarpur, Siwan, Gopalganj, Aurangabad, Vaisahli, Samastipur and Bhagalpur. Altogether, 31 districts of Bihar are JE-endemic. Around 10 crore children have been vaccinated against JE in India, of which 25% (2.3 crore) children are in Bihar.
In the current drive, children will be vaccinated at all the schools. In order to reach the uncovered children at schools, a door-to-door campaign will be launched in which the local health activists will mobilize people to the health centre where the injectable vaccine will be administered.
Playing down the concerns whether private schools will come on board, a health official shared his experience about the drive in Patna and said, "Though some private schools were initially reluctant, they later came on board. A day before vaccination, teachers were asked to send a note to parents, informing them that on the next day the children will be vaccinated and if they did not want to give consent, they must not send their child to the school. However, most of the parents gave their consent."
At a workshop jointly organized by the State Health Society and PATH, an NGO, experts said there was no treatment against JE. "Antibiotics cannot treat JE. Only symptomatic treatment is possible. Vaccination is the only way to prevent it," said PMCH paediatrician Dr Nigam Prakash Narain.