The Union government has rescheduled the national polio vaccination programme from January 17 to January 31 in the wake of phase-I of the Covid-19 inoculation that rolls out in a few days. As is the tradition, the Polio Ravivar (Polio Sunday) drive will be flagged of by President Ramnath Kovind who will administer the "drops" to children at Rashtrapati Bhavan a day before the drive.
Launched in 1995, Polio Ravivar or the Pulse Polio Immunisation programme sees up to 172 million children aged 0-5 years receiving oral drops on the day, also called National Immunisation Day. It was conceptualised to achieve 100 per cent coverage under oral polio vaccine through "social mobilisation" and "mop-up operations". Due to these massive drives, WHO, in February 2012, removed India from the list of countries with active endemic wild polio virus transmission.
The decision to postpone this year's Polio Ravivar was communicated by the Central government on January 9, the day it announced that India's Covid-19 vaccination drive would begin on January 16. It cited "unforeseen circumstances" for the postponement.
"The decision is in keeping with the stated policy of the Health Ministry to ensure that Covid health services and non-Covid essential health services proceed in tandem without adversely impacting each other," a government release said today.
During a meeting with the Chief Minister on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also said that the country must ensure routine vaccination schedules for other diseases were not affected because of Covid.
Over three crore healthcare and frontline workers will be covered in phase-I of the Covid-19 immunisation drive that the Prime Minister himself will launch on January 16.