With the rapid increase in the number of diphtheria cases reported from Malappuram and Kozhikode districts in Kerala, the State Health Department has decided to intensify the vaccination drive which incorporates a protocol to deal with ‘resistant’ families.
Following widespread reports of certain groups indulging in anti-vaccination campaigns in these districts, the Health Department has now framed certain plans to bring in religious organisations too into the awareness drives.
The Department -in a statement given to the media- mentioned about how many groups including various religious organisations have pledged their support for the said cause.
In a recent post on Facebook, the Department also informed the public that as part of its micro-level planning, the Malappuram Health Department is all set to cover all unimmunized children listed on its rolls within three months.
This will be undertaken based on the number of unimmunized children, geographical distance and the availability of locations. Mosques would announce the specific time, date and venue for vaccination.
A protocol has also been prescribed to deal with families resistant to the very idea of vaccination in the first place.
The Malappuram district health officials had earlier found that some groups who reportedly support other alternative medical practices were on an apparently continuous mission against vaccination per se.
“We have never found any religious groups propagating anti-vaccination drives. But some who supposedly follow alternative medical practices seem to be doing it. Surprisingly, they are not even residents of the district,” says V Ummar Farooq -District Medical Officer of Malappuram- while speaking to The News Minute.
“Legal action against the people who publicly vouch against vaccination is being considered by the government. We have also decided to follow certain protocols for those who do not get their children vaccinated. But the matter needs to be further discussed,” he adds.
A couple of weeks ago, even the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) had issued a clarification that the community was never against vaccines and that the party would always strive to ensure the success of the immunization programme.
Earlier, KK Shailaja -State Health Minister-had also told the media that a case could be registered against those who campaigned against vaccination. The government is however yet to make an official announcement in this regard.
Opinion is however divided within the Department on whether to make vaccination compulsory for admission to schools.