The BMC started administering the injectable vaccine on Tuesday. The vaccine, which now figures in the immunisation calendar, has to be administered to children at the age of six weeks and then 14 weeks, along with the oral polio vaccine.
Paediatricians say they do not wish to confuse parents are and hence giving out uniform advice: take your child to a civic-run facility for the injectable vaccine. Dr Uday Pai, consultant paediatrician and past president of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics, said, “We have told all our members to refer children to municipal centres for the vaccine dose. We have also sent a letter to the BMC that if private patients do come, they too should be given the vaccine.”
Doctors said parents should not panic, nor get confused. “If a child misses a shot, a catch up shot can be given later. This is not an emergency vaccine,” said Dr Pai.
Civic officials said they have adequate supply of the vaccine. Dr Padmaja Keskar, BMC’s executive health officer, said: “All private doctors can send us children for the injectable vaccine. We will be giving it for free.”
Six months before the BMC launched the injectable vaccine, the government had procured all the stock available with various vaccine dealerships. Paediatricians, who were giving the injectable vaccine earlier, said they have not given a single shot since January as there were no vaccines available in the market.
“Until last August or September, a monthly stock of 15,000 to 20,000 doses of the injectable vaccine was enough for Mumbai,” said vaccine dealer Dr Haresh Shah. “But awareness shot up after the government started advertising on television that it would start administering injectable polio vaccine from April, 2016. So the demand shot up after that.” Dr Shah, adding that there has been no stock for the last three months.
The shortage of the injectable polio vaccine is a global phenomenon. That is why it is being administered as an intradermal injection — between the layers of the skin — and not as an intramuscular injection, which uses up a larger quantity. The intramuscular shot needs just one dose, while the intradermal injection is given twice.
Both doctors and government officials are hopeful that production of the vaccine will scale up in the months to come.
100% protection from polio
Officials of the public health department have said that “simultaneous immunisation by oral polio vaccine and injectable polio vaccine will give dual protection to children and the community” and that “it will prevent reinfection and reactivation of polio disease”. Doctors too said that the two doses of the injectable polio will be 100 per cent protection from the virus.
“To eradicate polio completely, extra doses of oral polio vaccine are to be administered to children under five during every pulse polio campaign in addition to the oral and injectable polio vaccine doses,” the BMC stated in a press release following the injectable vaccine’s launch.