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Experts express concern over COVID-19 impact on routine child vaccinations



experts-concern-over-covid-19-impact-on-routine-child-vaccinations
UNICEF

Kathmandu, Aug. 26: Experts have shown concern that the regular vaccination of children below 15 months has been facing a strain as the country’s major resources are utilized to ensure the vaccine against COVID-19 at the earliest.

According to Basanta Shrestha, Public Health Officer at the Child Health and Immunization Section, the limited manpower of the Section, designated to run the regular vaccination has now to look on procurement and distribution of vaccine against COVID-19 infection also, therefore, it is a concern that the regular immunization program might get affected by it.

"However, the department is levelling up despite the shortage of staff to ensure that the regular vaccination of children under 15 months runs smoothly," he added. "The major concern of the department is not to break the regular vaccination of children under 15 months, besides providing the vaccine against COVID-19 at the earliest."

Nepal has come a long way to reduce child mortality, morbidity, and disability associated with vaccine-preventable diseases like measles, tuberculosis, diphtheria, polio, through this vaccination campaign. Expert has concerned that the efforts will go to vain if Nepal fail to ensure regular vaccination routines for children.

Newborn children to children below 15 months have been administered 12 types of vaccines, which are needed to keep children immune and healthy. Over 16 thousand vaccination centres run in a month to vaccinate children under 15 months.

He further suggested parents not miss their children’s immunization as it prevents children from getting diseases like Tuberculosis, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Hepatitis B, Haemophilus Influenza Type, Polio, and Measles and Pneumococcal diseases. 

BCG is administrated to children soon after their birth. Similarly, DPT-Hep-B and HiB are given to children between 6, 10, and 14 weeks and PCV (Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine), is administrated to children 6 and 10 weeks as well as 9 months.

In 14 weeks, Inactivated Polio vaccine (IPV) is given, similarly, MR (Measles Rubella) is given to children between 9 to 15 months.  Japanese Encephalitis is administered to children of 12 months and two shots of TD (Tetanus-Diphtheria), one month apart, are administered during pregnancy.

Similarly, Dr Jhalak Sharma Gautam, chief of the National Immunisation Programme, said that the regular vaccination of children has been running continuously, but, major resources are utilized in procurement and the distribution, which is straining the smooth regular vaccination for children.