Thanks to rotavirus vaccine, Baksari’s daughter has protection against the most lethal form of diarrhea

Oct 18, 2018

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Sushmita Malaviya
Senior journalist on environment and public health, based in New Delhi, India

During a recent visit to an immunization session site in Rajasthan, a series of observations left me very hopeful for the future of children in that State. On a porch of a local resident at Tyra, Kaman block of Bharatpur district, the auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM), was surrounded by women and children. There was the usual exchange of information, nudging women to keep their mother and child cards safe. The ANM was supported by an Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) named Raimoona.

 

Baksari, who was waiting her turn to get her youngest child vaccinated, told a poignant story that illustrated for me how the persuasion and commitment of the local ASHA plays a pivotal role in ensuring that parents bring their children to the immunization session site. Baksari has four children, and she came to the session site with her nine month old, who weighed roughly 6 kilograms.  When I gently probed why she was vaccinating her child, Baksari said that she had no knowledge of the importance of immunization. Her local ASHA, Raimoona, reminded her which child in the family was due for vaccination and she just followed the information provided.

 

 

When I asked about the last vaccine that her daughter received, Baksari apologized for not being able to provide the information I was seeking. In the same breath, however, she reiterated Raimoona’s role in keeping track of her children’s vaccination schedules. The State of Rajasthan just added the rotavirus vaccine to its immunization schedule. On this particular day, Baksari’s daughter received the ROTAVAC rotavirus vaccine along with other routine vaccines. Having been part of the rotavirus clinical trials in India, it was an “Aha” moment for me, too: the realization that the years of commitment to make a vaccine was now a reality!   

 

As I left the session site, I could not help thinking to myself, with the rotavirus vaccine administered, this child certainly had protection from a fatal bout of diarrhea. With Raimoona’s dedication, this child was also likely to complete her immunization schedule.