‘11 lakh children missed first measles vaccine in 2022’: Center denies

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According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), total 1.1 million children in India missed their routine immunisation against measles in 2022 which placed the country among the ten nations with the highest measles vaccination gap. However, the health ministry said that the reports are “ill-informed and inaccurate”.

The report has highlighted that in 2022, the 21.9 million infants who did not receive MCV1 through routine immunization services represented a decrease of 2.5 million (10%) compared with 2021, and a 2.7 million increase compared with 2019. “The 10 countries with the highest number of infants who did not receive MCV1 were Nigeria (3 million), Democratic Republic of the Congo (1.8 million), Ethiopia (1.7 million), India (1.1 million), Pakistan (1.1. million), Angola (0.8 million), Philippines (0.8 million), Indonesia (0.7 million), Brazil (0.5 million), and Madagascar (0.5 million).

These 10 countries accounted for 55% of all children worldwide who did not receive the first dose of measles vaccination coverage. The WHO said that following years of declines in measles vaccination coverage, measles cases in 2022 have increased by 18%, and deaths have increased by 43% globally.

Meanwhile, the union health ministry in a statement said reports claiming that an estimated 11 lakh children in India missed their first measles vaccine dose in 2022 are “ill-informed and inaccurate”.  “These reports are not based on facts and do not reflect the true picture. These reports are based on the estimated number reported under WHO UNICEF Estimates National Immunisation Coverage (WUENIC) 2022 report which covers the time-period from January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2022”, said the health ministry.

“However, as per the HMIS (Health Management Information System) of the Union Ministry of Health, a total of 2,63,63,270 children out of the eligible 2,63,84,580 children received their 1st dose of Measles Containing Vaccine (MCV) in the FY 2022-23 (April 2022 to March 2023) and only 21,310 children missed their 1st dose of Measles Containing Vaccine (MCV) in 2022-23,” the ministry said in a statement.

 The ministry added, “Besides this, several initiatives have been undertaken by the government in coordination with the states to ensure that all children, either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated receive all missed or due doses of MCV. The catch-up vaccination age for the administration of MCV has been increased from two years to five years in the periodic immunisation intensification activities”.

The ministry said that several states have carried out Supplementary Immunisation activities and outbreak response immunisation, wherein a total of 30 million children have been vaccinated with an additional dose of MR vaccine.