Every year, some 900,000 children are hospitalized and 100,000 die from rotavirus infection in India. This has prompted the Indian government to add the rotavirus vaccine to the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) in an effort to reduce diarrheal illness and deaths in the country.
Shri J P Nadda, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare made the announcement today noting, “We have achieved a new milestone towards expanding the coverage of full immunization in the country aimed at reducing child mortality”.
The vaccine, developed in India, is being introduced initially in four states (Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Odisha) and will be later be phased in to the entire country.
“Adding this life-saving vaccine to our immunization program will not only improve the health of our children but also reduce hospitalization and other conditions associated with diarrhea due to Rotavirus such as malnutrition, delayed physical and mental development among children.Reduced hospitalization reduces the economic burden on the family and the health cost burden on the country”, Shri Nadda said. He further stated that the Rotavirus vaccine has been developed indigenously, under a public-private partnership by the Ministry of Science and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. This therefore is a landmark achievement under ‘Make in India’ initiative, he stated.
In addition, four new vaccines are being introduced as part of UIP including Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV), Rotavirus vaccine, Measles, Rubella (MR) vaccine, and Adult Japanese Encephalitis (JE) vaccine. With these new vaccines, India’s UIP will provide free vaccines against 12 life threatening diseases, to 27 million children annually, the largest birth cohort in the world. IPV has been introduced in six states from 30 Nov 2015 for provide double protection against Polio, he stated.
Rotavirus is responsible for the death of over 600,000 children annually worldwide. Once a person has been exposed to rotavirus, it takes about 2 days for symptoms to appear.
Rotavirus is shed (passed from a person’s body into the environment) in feces (stool) of infected persons. The virus spreads by the fecal-oral route; this means that the virus must be shed by an infected person and then enter a susceptible person’s mouth to cause infection.
Rotavirus vaccination is the best way to protect children against rotavirus disease. The vaccines are very effective at preventing severe rotavirus disease in infants and young children.
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