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Fact Checking Government claims about Immunization

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The BJP government has published an infographic on the 48-months portal that makes four claims about vaccination. This article is a fact check of the claims.

The BJP government has published an infographic on the 48-months portal that makes four claims about vaccination. This article is a fact check of the claims.

About the Government’s Immunization Program
Immunization Program in India was introduced in 1978 as ‘Expanded Program of Immunization’ (EPI) by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. In 1985, the program was modified as ‘Universal Immunization Program’ (UIP) to be implemented in phased manner to cover all districts in the country by 1989-90 with the one of largest health programs in the world. Despite being operational for many years, UIP has been able to fully immunize only 65% children in the first year of their life.

Hence successive governments have taken up multiple immunization programs, both to align with global programs and also to fight newer threats.

How many doses of IPV were administered?
The first claim is that ‘inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) introduced in Nov 2015. Around 4 crore doses administered to children’.

The annual report  (2017-18) of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) states that ‘there are three types of Polio viruses namely type-1, 2 and 3 for which the vaccine was provided under Universal Immunization Programme as trivalent oral polio vaccine. Since last case of wild polio virus type-2 was reported in 1999, therefore, Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) has recommended switch from trivalent OPV to bivalent OPV (containing only type-1 & 3). The tOPV to bOPV switch happened in India on 25th April, 2016. As part of Global Polio end-game strategy, to mitigate the risk associated with tOPV to bOPV switch, MoHFW has introduced Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) in UIP in November, 2015, which was expanded across the country by June, 2016. Currently, two dose fractional schedule is being followed in the country with vaccination at 6 weeks and 14 weeks of age. Till December, 2017, around 3.45 crore doses of IPV have been administered to children across the country since its introduction’.

As per provisional reports, till June 2017, a total of 4.56 crore doses of IPV have been supplied to the States/UTs. The IPV vaccine is provided to state Government by Government of India under Universal Immunization Programme. The IPV vaccination is mainly carried out by the government hospitals and other service delivery outlets under government. It is evident from this information that while more than 4 crore doses were supplied to the state governments, slightly more than 3.4 crore doses were administered till December 2017. Since polio vaccinations are given in two doses, the number of children immunized is half the number of doses administered.

Claim: Inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) introduced in Nov 2015. Around 4 crore doses administered to children.

Fact: MoHFW has introduced Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) in UIP in November, 2015, which was expanded across the country by June, 2016. 4.56 crore doses of IPV have been supplied to the state governments and 3.45 crore doses administered till December 2017. Since the claim was made in May 2018, the number might have reached the 4 crore doses. Hence, the claim is TRUE. However, this shift to IPV is part of the larger global movement against Polio and as mandated by GPEI.

How many doses of Rotavirus were administered?
The second claim is that ‘Rotavirus vaccine launched in March 2016. Nearly 1.5 crore doses administered to children’.

Rota Virus Vaccine has been introduced to reduce mortality and morbidity caused by Rotavirus diarrhea. Presently, the vaccine has been introduced in 9 States, namely, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Assam, Tripura, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu & Madhya Pradesh through domestic funds. Till November, 2017, around 1.29 crore doses of Rotavirus vaccine have been administered to children in above mentioned States since its introduction. In the next phase, Rotavirus vaccine will be introduced in Jharkhand.

An answer provided in Lok Sabha from March 2018 states that ‘the Government had launched Rotavirus vaccine in the year 2016 to prevent Rotavirus Diarrhoea. Rotavirus vaccine has been administered to about 1.41 crores children across these nine states (as on February 2018)’.

While the number in the data obtained is lower than the one in the claim, it is also pertinent to note that these numbers only concern the 9 states in which the vaccination has been introduced and till February 2018. Hence the numbers might have increased by the time the claim is made in May 2018.

Claim: Rotavirus vaccine launched in March 2016. Nearly 1.5 crore doses administered to children.

Fact: The Government had launched Rotavirus vaccine in the year 2016 to prevent Rotavirus Diarrhoea. It was administered to about 1.41 crores children across nine states as on February 2018. Hence, the claim is TRUE.  

How many children were covered under the measles rubella vaccination campaign?
The third claim is that ‘Measles Rubella (MR) vaccination campaign launched in Feb 2017. Around 8 crore children vaccinated’.

MR vaccine is being introduced through campaign, targeting around 41 crore children in the age group of 9 months to 15 years in a phased manner (covering ⅓ of the total population of the country), followed by 2 doses in routine immunization at 9-12 months and 16- 24 months, replacing the measles vaccine. MR campaign started in February, 2017 from 5 States/UTs (Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Lakshadweep and Puducherry), where 3.34 crore children were vaccinated against the target of 3.43 crore with a coverage of 97%. The next phase started for 8 States/UTs from August, 2017 namely Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Daman & Diu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Telangana, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh & Uttara hand where around 3.21 crore children have been vaccinated by December, 2017.

An answer in Lok Sabha from July 2018 clarifies that ‘following the campaign, Measles-Rubella (MR) vaccine is introduced in Routine Immunization replacing two doses of measles vaccine. The Measles-Rubella campaign started from February 2017 and has been rolled out in 21 states/UTs by July, 2018, covering nearly 9.2 crore children’.

It has to also be noted that the government of India introduced measles vaccine across the country in 1985 under the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP). To further reduce the measles burden, a second dose of measles vaccine was introduced in the country in the year 2010.

Claim: Measles Rubella (MR) vaccination campaign launched in Feb 2017. Around 8 crore children vaccinated.

Fact: The Measles-Rubella campaign started from February 2017 and has been rolled out in 21 states/UTs by July, 2018, covering nearly 9.2 crore children. Considering that the claim was made earlier than the data collected, it is TRUE.  However, it has to be noted that the government of India introduced measles vaccine across the country in 1985 under the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP). To further reduce the measles burden, a second dose of measles vaccine was introduced in the country in the year 2010.

How many children have been vaccinated with PCV?
The last claim is that ‘Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) launched in May 2017. Around 15 lakh doses administered to children’.

PCV was launched in May, 2017 for reducing Infant mortality and morbidity caused by pneumococcal pneumonia. The vaccine has been introduced in Himachal Pradesh, 6 districts of Uttar Pradesh and 17 districts of Bihar. Till December 2017, around 11.20 lakh doses of PCV have been administered to children in the above mentioned areas.  An answer in Lok Sabha states that “As per National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) recommendation, Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) and Rotavirus vaccine (RVV) have been introduced in a phased manner in the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) as per availability of vaccine and resource’.

Claim: Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) launched in May 2017. Around 15 lakh doses administered to children.

Fact: PCV was launched in May, 2017 for reducing Infant mortality and morbidity caused by pneumococcal pneumonia. Till December, 2017, around 11.20 lakh doses of PCV have been administered to children. More updated data on the beneficiaries is not available. Hence, the claim remains UNVERIFIED.

This story is part of a larger series on the 4-years of the Modi government. This series has been made possible with the flash grant of the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN). Read the rest of the stories in this series here

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