KATHMANDU, Dec 20: Some of the renowned schools in the capital have refused to cooperate with the measles-rubella (MR) vaccine campaign launched by the government since last week.
Such schools have barred government sent vaccinators from entering their schools for immunization, officials at Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) said.
According to the Child Health Division (CHD), under Department of Health Services (DoHS), schools like Rato Bangla, Little Angles, Galaxy, Daffodil, Florscent, Brihaspati, Chand Bagh etc., have denied entry to the health officials.
"They questioned the reliability of the vaccine and did not give permission to our health workers to immunize their students," said Dr Taranath Pokhrel, Chief of CHD. Teachers at Rato Bangla School told the vaccinators only the children of elites study at the school and they don´t need vaccines, Pokhrel said.
"No children should be deprived of immunization in the campaign as this is a national campaign," CHD chief Pokhrel said.
The CHD has sought help of District Education Office (DEO) to ensure that even the students at those schools receive the vaccine. Officials at CHD said the DEO has assured them that all schools would be persuaded to let the campaign staff do their work. "If the schools do not allow us to do our work even then, we will push for a legal action against them," Pokhrel added.
Chief of District Public Health Office (DPHO) Kathmandu, Mahendra Prasad Shrestha said that some of the schools have told the health workers that they would allow them to administer vaccines to their students only after they get formal approval from guardians.
"It is not possible to take approval from each and every parent and so we do not seek approval from parents as this is a national program," said Shrestha. He claimed that government does not need approval of parents to immunize children under the campaign.
"We have our own rules. We do not allow anyone to enter our school and do whatsoever they wish to do with our children," said Geeta Rana, principal of Galaxy Public School. Rana, however, was forced to relent after parents of the students gave a nod to the campaign.
"We can not stand guarantee for vaccines, so we sought approval from the parents," she said later. She said students who were on antibiotic and some others who had already received the vaccine were not immunized.
Rubella in pregnant women can cause congenital rubella syndrome, with potentially devastating consequences to babies, according to doctors. They said that children infected with rubella at birth are at risk of several deformities and health complications such as slow growth, mental retardation, malformations of the heart and eyes, deafness and problems related to liver, spleen and bone marrow.
It is believed that every year about 1,400 children are born with physical disabilities because of rubella infection. Over 10 percent of pregnant women are under the risk of infection with the rubella virus, reports suggest.
The Kathmandu DPHO said out of 416,000 children in the metropolis over 150,000 children have been immunized until Wednesday. DPHO plans to immunize about 658,800 children in the month-long campaign in Kathmandu district alone.
About 5.7 million children aged 9 months to 15 years in the Central and Eastern Regions are being immunized with measles and rubella (MR) vaccines in the third phase of the MR Campaign that kicked off on December 14.
CHD has requested everybody to cooperate with health officials in immunizing their children. In the first and second phases of the campaign about 4.5 million children in the Western, Mid-Western and Far-Western Regions were vaccinated.
MoHP aims to eliminate the diseases by 2015 to meet one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).