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Uttar Pradesh To Prepone The Japanese Encephalitis Immunisation Drive

ramme. For example, they explained that the vaccination might be seen as responsible for death of a child, but in reality may have died due to heat stroke. For all these and more proper monitoring were needed, they said.

Besides they also said that the results of the animal toxicity studies being carried out by the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, would be available only by June. The institute has been now asked to prepare a preliminary report by May 15, they said adding post-marketing surveillance may not be possible in the programme in UP.

Sources have said that the central government is also rushing a team of officials to Gorakpur to train the staff and create proper cold chain and power backup before the programme takes off. The vaccination programme is being undertaken under the expert guidance of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) that would also be undertaking surveillance simultaneously.

Health officials have explained that the disease season starts in July in the country and it takes about 7 to 15 days for the vaccine to become effective. Generally two doses are needed of the "mouse brain vaccine", made by the Central drug laboratory, Kasauli, whereas only one dose of the Chinese vaccine would need to be given. Mouse brain vaccine costs Rs 50 per dose. In comparison, government is getting the Chinese vaccine at about Rs 8 per dose.

Japanese Encephalitis has been claiming around 1,000 to 2,000 lives every year since 1952. About 600 to 700 children have been dying in Uttar Pradesh (mostly in Muslim-dominated areas) and the issue was much politicised last year, with both Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister asking for action.

Studies have shown that the strain of the Japanese encephalitis virus in India is genetically similar to that used in the Chinese vaccine, which means the vaccine is expected to be effective in Indian children, according to officials.

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