A special immunisation campaign will be conducted weekly in three rounds from January 16 in order to catch infants up to 2 years old who may have missed out on a crucial vaccination.
The second and third rounds will be held on February 16 and March 16 respectively.
Addressing reporters today, Dr EL Kharmuti, the District Maternal Child Health Officer of East Khasi Hills, stressed that children who have been left out or who dropped out of the immunisation will be vaccinated during the special campaign.
She said that parents/guardians can become reluctant to follow through with immunisation if their child develops a fever after the first jab.
There were 647 deaths of children in East Khasi Hills between April and December 2022, the official informed, with most of these deaths due to complications arising out of home births.
“Some of the mothers who give birth at home don’t use sterilised blades, or the babies are delivered by untrained persons and develop infections. Some think it is easier to give birth at home, while some bathe their children right after they are born, which can prove fatal for a child who suffers from sepsis, pneumonia, prematurity and low birth weight, etc,” Dr Kharmuti explained.
In East Khasi Hills, rural areas like Mawryngkneng, Mawkynrew and Pynursla have the lowest levels of immunisation, while people living in some hard-to-reach places like Khatarshnong, Nongjri in the Laitlyngkot area, Tyrna near Sohra, hold on to superstitious beliefs that dissuade them from getting vaccines.
Even places in and near Shillong, like Mawsiatkhnam, some parts of Mawlai, Nongmynsong, Laitkor, etc are hubs of vaccine hesitancy.
“Our people should also know that measles, known locally as ‘Niang Blei’, is preventable through vaccination and a child can be protected from developing dangerous complications through the vaccine,” the doctor added.
Informing that all these vaccines are provided free of cost to all children at all public health facilities under universal immunisation programme, she said that the special immunisation campaign is an opportunity to protect children against life threatening diseases and that the these vaccines are safe, of high quality and provided by trained health care workers.