16 lakh vaccinated against JE

Kathmandu, August 5 :

Over 16 lakh people have been vaccinated against Japanese Encephalitis so far this year under the JE Immunisation Campaign, which started in July. This is the first time the government has launched the JEIC on massive scale.

The immunisation was initiated in four hyper-endemic districts of Banke, Bardiya, Kailali and Dang in July, covering all children above one year of age. Those under 15 years of age are being vaccinated in Rupandehi and Kanchanpur. The government aims to vaccinate 25 lakh children of the districts.

The Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) under Department of Health Services (DoHS) is the implementing body.

Compared to last year, death toll due to JE has gone down drastically this year, Dr Shyam Raj Upreti, chief at the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) under the Child Health Division, told this daily today. “The immunisation campaign may meet its objective within two weeks,” said Dr Upreti.

Even in India, children under 15 years of age are vaccinated against JE in targeted districts.

A lengthy government procedure had delayed the procurement of JE vaccines. Though vaccination is usually carried out in April and May, the campaign got under way in July because the vaccines were delivered in June.

“Though the procurement and distribution of vaccines was delayed, the delay will not make much of a difference because very few cases of JE have been reported this year,” Dr Upreti said. “Four cases of JE have been reported so far this year,” he said, adding, “Twenty-five JE cases had been reported by this time last year.”

Minor cases of fever and itching have been reported in Bardiya and Kailali districts after JE vaccination.

Eighty-eight out of 1,264 JE patients had died last year. JE causes paralysis, brain damage and death. Every year, about 3,000 contract JE and about 300 of them die, the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division said.