SHILLONG, Sept 7 - Meghalaya Health department will vaccinate all children aged 1-15 years old against JE (Japanese Encephalitis) in East Khasi Hills district. The month-long vaccination drive, to be carried out in two phases, first in schools and then in designated locations of the district began on August 31.
However, the vaccination campaign is a challenge because of a host of reasons, the Health department admitted. Many of the school authorities have told Health officials about parents being reluctant to have their children get the vaccine.
�Some of the schools have written about parents being unwilling to get their children vaccinated for JE. So the campaign has met with some hurdles,� District Medical Health Officer SS Dohling said during a media interaction before the campaign began.
Similar mass vaccination drives in different districts of the State have met with cold response from the public. �The acceptance rate for JE vaccination drive, conducted in different districts of the State this year, was between 30 to 40 per cent,� Dohling said.
Apart from public acceptance, the district faces acute shortage of Anganwadi workers and staff nurses required for the vaccination. Due to this reason, a nurse would have to vaccinate around 150 children a day in designated places of the district, the officials said.
�The vaccine has to be injected, so we need trained nurses and Anganwadi workers. There is shortage of such trained staff in the district,� Dohling added.
The free vaccine has also met with resistance in some parts of the State due to other reasons. �Rumour mongers are creating hurdles too, by stating the vaccine is associated with 666 (devil) or a microchip is being inserted,� Dr Manoj R Basaiawmoit from the Health department said.
The vaccine SA-14-14-2 has been used in several parts of the country and so far two million children have been vaccinated with it. In Assam, it is part of the universal vaccination programme, the Health official said.
This year, six people died due to JE in Meghalaya. Three of the deaths occurred in Garo Hills, one in Jaintia Hills and two in Ri-Bhoi district, the Health official informed. JE is transmitted through Culex mosquitoes and causes inflammation of the brain and subsequent brain damage.