Assam to launch Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV)

A one day state-level media launch for Inactivated Poliovirus Vaccine (IPV) was held in Guwahati on November 23. The workshop was organized by Directorate of Health Services (Family Welfare) with support from UNICEF Assam.

The one-day sensitization workshop was organized in Guwahati to provide state and district level media persons with technical knowledge about the new injectable polio vaccine as well as all aspects of immunization, presenting a wider perspective of their importance in the overall sphere of public health and health reporting, and facilitating dialogue with health experts. 

As part of the polio endgame strategy, more than 100 countries worldwide will be introducing Inactivated Poliovirus Vaccine (IPV) this year. The universal introduction of IPV is part of the global plan to eradicate polio and secure the gains through stronger immunization systems, so that children, no matter where they are born, will never again suffer from this debilitating, preventable disease.

So far, Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) is part of the Routine Immunization Programme (RI) in the country. IPV will be introduced into the RI program by giving the child one dose of IPV injection with the third dose of Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV). Health experts shared that the Inactivated Poliovirus Vaccine (IPV) will provide double protection from polio and will be given in addition to Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV). Children between 14 weeks and one year of age coming to RI session site to receive 3rd dose of OPV will be eligible for IPV. The vaccine will be launched in Assam on 30 November 2015.

The media launch workshop started with an introduction from Dr. Atul Gogoi, Joint Director, Universal Immunization Programme (UIP), Assam. Dr Gogoi emphasized the importance of regular interaction with the media and said that ‘The Directorate of Health and Family Welfare DHS(FW) will conduct regular media interactions at state and district level for maintaining smooth communication with media so as to avoid misreporting and rumors generated from the gap in communication between media and health officials’.  

Dr Manisha Chawla, Health Specialist, UNICEF Assam gave an overview of Routine Immunization (RI) in India and Assam. She outlined the status of immunization coverage in the State which is at nearly 65 per cent. Mission Indradhanush-Phase I launched in April 2015 was an effort in improving the immunization coverage in the State. Dr. Gogoi added that after the successful completion of Phase I, the Government has launched the second phase of MI in 18 additional districts of Assam to reach the unreached children and women in these districts. Mission Indradhanush-Phase II was launched in the state in October 2015.

Media can be a crucial ally in creating awareness on Routine Immunization (RI) and addressing child health issues through balanced and accurate reporting especially during occurrence of Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI). Tahseen Alam, Advocacy and Communication Officer, UNICEF, stressed on the proactive role that media needs to play before reporting on any AEFI. She urged the health officials to also reach out to the media to reduce misreporting on health issues.

Almost 80 participants from state and district level media, District Immunization Officers (DIOs), officials from DHS (FW) and UNICEF participated in the one day workshop.