The decision of the Uttar Pradesh government to prepone the Japanese Encephalitis immunization drive has not gone down well with experts in New Delhi. The drive was originally to have taken place on June 18, but the government has preponed it to May 15 just four days after the delivery of 5.2 million doses of the Japanese Encephalitis tissue culture vaccine manufactured by the Chengdu Institute of Biologicals, China.
The remaining 13.5 million doses are expected to arrive in mid-June. Experts say that some data still needs to be analyzed before initiating the drive. 'The peak season for Japanese Encephalitis starts in July, so June is the apt time as the vaccine becomes effective after 15 days of vaccination. We could have trained people properly, taken care of logistics and cold chain in a better manner,' an official told the Indian Express.
The Uttar Pradesh Government has identified Gorakhpur, Maharajgunj, Dewdia, Kushinagar and half of Lakhinpur Kheri as the districts, which will get the initial round. Officials say even toxicity reports have not been cleared. 'Results of the animal toxicity studies being carried out by the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, would be available only by June,' said the officials.
The Union government is sending a team of experts to Gorakhpur to coordinate the campaign. 'We won't even know what the minor side effects are, like fever. Even if a child faints due to the hot weather it will give a bad name to the campaign,' said an official.