Meghalaya ranks second in child immunisation coverage in India

COVID-19 hits progress of other vaccination programmes in state

By Ibankyntiew Mawrie

SHILLONG, March 15: Close to 92% of the children between the age group of 0-1 year have received all their vaccines at different intervals, Principal Secretary in-charge of Health, Sampath Kumar told The Shillong Times on Tuesday.
From a lowly rank of 34 recorded a few years ago, Meghalaya has climbed to the second position as of 2021, in terms of child immunisation coverage.
On the occasion of National Vaccination Day on Wednesday, Kumar called upon the parents to get their children vaccinated.
“It is very important for the parents to participate and to get their child vaccinated because the vaccines protect against diseases that do not have a cure,” Kumar said.
As far as COVID-19 vaccination is concerned, the Principal Health Secretary said so far, 71% of all eligible persons have been vaccinated.
However, the percentage of young people between the age group of 15-17 is very dismal at only 21%.
Admitting to the slow pace of vaccination of young people, Health Minister James Sangma said the government is in the process of reaching out to young people to achieve the state’s target of 100% vaccination.
“For children from 15-17, the vaccination has been a little slow in the state but still in the process of reaching out and seeing a rise in the number of teenagers coming up to take the vaccine voluntarily,” he said.
As of March 15, the total number of fully vaccinated individuals is 8,69,084, while the total number of people vaccinated with the first dose is 12,37,942 and another 3,621 citizens have been vaccinated with the precautionary dose.
It may be mentioned that vaccination for children between the age group of 12-14 years will begin from Wednesday and Corbevax will be administered to this age group.
“It is, no doubt, a challenge because there is a slight amount of vaccine hesitancy not just among children but sometimes among parents as well,” the Health minister said.
But he is hopeful that with the kind of outreach programme the government is putting in place through counselling and awareness, most parents would come forward to get their children vaccinated.
On whether the pandemic has affected the immunization programme in the state, Kumar revealed that the COVID vaccine hesitancy amongst people has impacted other important vaccines from being administered.
According to him, the health indicators have improved over the last couple of years. However, since 2020, the state has faced challenges because of the pandemic.
“There was vaccine hesitancy and this has had an impact on other vaccines. When medical teams go to the villages to administer other vaccines, they are often met with hesitancy and anxiety,” Kumar said.
The Health minister also admitted that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected many programmes but hoped that while the state moves towards 100% COVID vaccination, the focus can be re-shifted to areas that have been affected due to complete concentration on COVID.
A little about National Vaccination Day: National Vaccination Day is observed every year on March 16 to convey the significance of vaccination and create awareness on how vaccination or immunization is the most effective way of preventing highly infectious diseases.
National Vaccination Day 2022 attains significance amid the COVID-19 pandemic against which vaccine has come out to be the only solution of preventing the deadly disease.
This year’s theme is “vaccines work for all”.

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