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Thursday, October 04, 2018

Mandatory Vaccination In Schools

The government of India is running an ambitious program since 2017 where it is targeting eradication of Measles and Rubella via a single dose vaccines to be given to children between 9 months to 15 years of age.


It has already conducted this drive in many of the southern states and mostly in Municipal and State run schools. Of late, they have extended the project to northern states and to private schools as well. The obvious problem they faced is getting consent from the parents of the children going to these schools.

I was inundated with calls asking me for my opinion about the vaccine, how it's going to be performed, who is going to do it and of course, whether it is safe of not.

As far as I am concerned, I believe that each child should be vaccinated and even if taken previously, the booster effect does play a major part in effective immunity. Furthermore, the concept of herd immunity necessitates that we vaccinate the maximum number of children possible in order to safeguard those that could not or would not get the vaccine! So, my answer to all questions was, Yes! Get the vaccination done.

The notice that the government of India sent out, unfortunately, does not inspire confidence. There are no details available about when exactly it would be done, how it would be carried out, who would be administering the vaccines and which vaccine would exactly be given (by this I mean multi vial or single vial units). 

There was also a lot of doubt about how they would take care of any reactions that could possibly occur and who would take responsibility for the child's well being in case something untoward happens. The notice gives no assurances, the school absolves itself of responsibility while asking for the consent, the persons administering the vaccine are unknown and probably work on contract basis and are not permanent healthcare staff and the government, well, is the government.

I truly believe, there should have been an option of getting the vaccine privately and showing a proof of vaccination towards the drive to ensure everyone is vaccination. If not, there should have been a more clear picture painted with parents being allowed to accompany their children to the vaccination as most children are anxious about needles anyway.

I also wish the schools concerned would call a meeting to address these concerns before sending out the consent forms to be filled with any sort of deadline. Many school principals that I know personally have asked me how to proceed and I asked them to demand more details from the government program before sending out consent forms.

Perhaps, in an ideal world, all this would happen. Perhaps, in an ideal world, the above would be self explanatory and there would be no need to write this.

As of now, I am still undecided as to whether to allow my child to be vaccinated in school. This after me being a doctor myself. I can only imagine the confusion in non medical houses!

Here are some useful links I found with regards to this campaign:

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