Government defers national polio immunisation programme

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The Centre has deferred the national polio immunisation drive that was scheduled to take place on January 17 for time being, according to the officials concerned in the Union ministry of health and family welfare.

The polio vaccination drive that takes places each year in January, with a mop-up round in the second half of the year, has been postponed because it was too close to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccination drive that will be launched in the country on Saturday, January 16.

In a letter written last week by the Union health ministry’s immunisation division, the states were asked to postpone the polio drive for now.

“This is with reference to the letter dated on 19.11.2020 regarding the schedule of date of polio national immunisation day (NID) round. In this regard, this is to inform that due to unforeseen activities, it is decided to postpone the scheduled polio NID round from January 17 2021 till further notice,” read the letter issued on January 9, which was addressed to principal secretaries of health and welfare department of all states.

The health ministry officials, however, clarified that the drive was only deferred for the time being.

“It is just a temporary measure, and the vaccination will be held soon after the Covid-19 vaccination is taken care of,” an official said on condition of anonymity.

Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan in a media briefing on Tuesday, had also said that certain non-Covid related government programmes were being rescheduled due to Covid-related interventions.

“When the Covid-19 outbreak started, non-Covid health care services were hugely affected. We do not want that to be repeated. There maybe a short delay of certain services where we might have to reschedule certain government programmes but no service will be completely shut in future when Covid-19 vaccination drive is on…” Bhushan said during the press briefing.