The largest immunisation campaign in the country's history began yesterday aiming to immunise 5.2 crore children -- about one third of the population -- against measles and rubella.
The three-week long drive will vaccinate children aged from nine months to 15 years.
Tajul Islam A Bari, assistant director of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), said the first day of immunisation was a success.
He told The Daily Star that students of 1.7 lakh educational institutions will be reached in the first week of the programme.
From next week, the second week of the campaign, children will be immunised at the regular EPI centres like community clinics and upazila health complexes; and also at district and city corporation headquarters and medical college hospitals, said Bari.
“We wanted to cover all educational institutions having children under the age of 15 by the end of the week, and start reaching out to other centres during the second week. But I think we will reach our target in a week only,” he said.
“A total of about 1.2 lakh immunisation centres will cater for children who do not go to schools,” Bari said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will officially inaugurate the campaign at Gono Bhaban today.
Prior to this campaign, about 3.5 crore children aged from nine months to 10 years were given measles vaccine in 2006, while 1.8 crore children were vaccinated under its follow up campaign in 2010.
During the campaign this year, children younger than five years would be given the oral vaccine for polio.
The massive campaign will require Tk 512.70 crore and is to be supported by The Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunisation (GAVI).
Symptoms of both the viral diseases -- measles and rubella -- are rash and fever. But women who contract rubella during the first three months of pregnancy are likely to give birth to children with defects like hearing and vision impairment.
EPI officials informed that at present the prevalence of rubella is 19 per 10 lakh people, while measles cases are only 1.4 in 10 lakh people.