Most of the measles cases in the state were reported among the children of migrant parents who had to leave the cities during the pandemic, say health experts from the state health department.
Senior health officials said vaccination drives were disrupted during the pandemic due to which many children who had migrated with their parents had missed or skipped their MR vaccine doses. Moreover, migration made the health tracking of children even more difficult.
As per the data, till December-end, Maharashtra recorded 165 measles outbreaks and 1,298 cases and 24 deaths.
The outbreaks set off one of the largest measles vaccination drives in recent years.
Dr Sachin Desai, state immunisation officer, said the vaccination coverage during Covid times was 99% of the estimated population, however, 1% had missed the doses which is still high in absolute numbers. “We are reporting cases mostly in areas with high vaccine hesitancy and in families that moved from one city to another during the pandemic, missing routine vaccination. We are now reaching out to these groups,” he said.
One of the members of the state measles task force said most people in Maharashtra had migrated from Mumbai and Pune which have the most cases of measles. Moreover, all manpower was utilised in handling the pandemic due to which focus was Covid-19 vaccination and routine immunisation had taken a backseat.
“We are not denying that measles vaccination had impacted this time as all machinery was involved with tackling Covid. These migrant families are mainly from the low-income bracket and live in densely populated neighbourhoods. Many are also homeless. Even now, health workers are finding it difficult to reach these children as most families are on a daily wage and parents are away during the day,” he said.
On December 15, the Maharashtra health department started a special state-wide measles immunisation drive to cover all unvaccinated children.
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)