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Measles Rubella (MR) Revaccinations – What You Should Know


Many parents2 have anxiously raised queries in the last few weeks regarding the Government’s Measles Rubella (MR) vaccination campaign. This blog seeks to address these questions. The government’s campaign aims for all children aged between nine months and less than fifteen years to be given a single shot of MR vaccination irrespective of their previous measles/rubella vaccination status or disease status. MR vaccine will be provided free of cost across the states from session sites at schools as well as health facilities and outreach session sites.
Why the vaccination?
Globally, in 2015, measles killed an estimated 1, 34, 200 children, mostly under the age of five years. In India, it killed 49, 200 children. Rubella is generally a mild infection, but has serious consequences if the infection occurs in pregnant women, causing congenital rubella syndrome with permanent deformities. This is cause of public health concern. Much like polio, we have to eliminate the virus from the environment to make it safe for everyone. It is not enough for female children to be vaccinated to prevent them getting infected in the future. Male children too have to be vaccinated, otherwise the rubella virus will continue to circulate among 50 percent of the population, definitely enough to sustain ongoing rubella transmission leading to outbreaks. This sustained rubella transmission in the community is a potential threat to antenatal mothers in early pregnancy, living in the family and community.
India accounts for close to one-third of the world’s 134,000 annual deaths due to measles according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) data. Therefore the goal is Measles elimination and Rubella control by year 2020. In our population the current immunity status is insufficient to stop ongoing disease transmission – 95% population immunity is necessary to stop endemic measles and rubella virus circulation. An endemic disease is one which repeatedly attacks a certain population. The idea is to provide what is called “herd immunity” wherein a high percentage of the population is protected through vaccination against a virus or bacteria, making it difficult for a disease to spread because there are so few susceptible people left to infect. MR vaccine gives lifelong protection – but vaccine efficacy of MR vaccine is 85% when given below 12 months and 95% when given above 12 months of age. Rubella vaccine efficacy is more than 95% if administered below 12 months and >99 % if given above 12 months.
Are revaccinations necessary?

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Dr. Krishna Mahathi holds diplomas in Pediatrics and in the management of allergies and asthma. Years of working and interacting with children and parents have given her insight into developmental disabilities. She wishes that there was more awareness and acceptance of the issues that differently-abled children face and hopes that through this blog, she can enable thse children and their families to make sensible and informed choices.

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