Centre defers national Pulse Polio vaccination drive until further notice
The Centre has announced that the national Pulse Polio vaccination drive has been deferred in view of the upcoming, large-scale COVID-19 immunization program across the country. The National Immunization Day (NID), commonly known as the Pulse Polio vaccination program, was scheduled for January 17, which was too close to the coronavirus inoculation drive that is set to be launched on January 16. Here's more.
The polio immunization program was postponed for the time being, according to the concerned Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry officials. The Pulse Polio drive, under which children under the age of five years are vaccinated against the polio virus, takes place in January every year. A mop-up round is also held later for children who missed getting the vaccination in the January phase.
On January 9, the Union Health Ministry's immunization division had communicated the decision on deferring the polio vaccination program to the Principal Secretaries of Health and Welfare Department of all states through a letter. "This is to inform that due to unforeseen activities, it is decided to postpone the scheduled polio NID round from January 17, 2021, till further notice," read the letter.
The Union Health Ministry's officials have, however, clarified that the polio immunization drive was being deferred only for the time being and will be conducted soon after they take care of the COVID-19 vaccination drive. "It is just a temporary measure, and the [polio] vaccination will be held soon after the COVID-19 vaccination is taken care of," an official said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan also said that certain government programs that are not related to tackling COVID-19 were being rescheduled. "There may be a short delay of certain services where we might have to reschedule certain government programs but no service will be completely shut in future when COVID-19 vaccination drive is on," he said, addressing a media briefing.
India is all set to launch its COVID-19 inoculation drive, which according to PM Narendra Modi is the world's largest vaccination program, from January 16. To note, under this program, priority will reportedly be given to about three crore healthcare and frontline workers. They will be followed by people aged above 50 years, and then by those below 50 years who have co-morbidities.