The National Polio immunisation programme, as part of which children in the age group of 0-5 years are administered polio drops, has been deferred "till further notice" by the Centre citing "unforeseen activities". The National Immunisation Day (NID), commonly known as Pulse Polio Immunisation programme, was scheduled for January 17 across India.
The Union Health Ministry has communicated the decision to defer the polio immunisation programme to all states through a letter on January 9.
"This is to inform that due to unforeseen activities, it is decided to postpone the scheduled Polio NID (National Immunisation Day) round from January 17, 2021 till further notice," according to the letter sent to the Principal Secretary in the Health department of all states.
Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan had said on January 8 that polio immunisation will be carried out on January 17.
"We have decided that on January 17, we are going to have our national immunisation days for polio which will run for two to three days," he had said adding the drive covered aspects like identifying and immunising children left out from vaccination.
The vaccination is very essential to ensure that the nation maintained overall immunity levels against polio virus, he had said.
"In the next few days, in the near future, we should be able to give these vaccines to our countrymen. It will be given to our healthcare professional followed by frontline workers. I request the NGOs working in the field of health to help in the smooth conduct of the COVID-19 vaccination programme and mobilisation of beneficiaries in the best possible manner," he stated.
"In the past year, government and social organisations, scientists and medical practitioners showed exemplary performance in managing COVID-19 situation. India has the highest recovery rate and the lowest fatality rate. We started the journey with one testing lab and today we have around 2,300 labs in the country," the minister added further.
The country will launch its COVID-19 vaccination drive from January 16 in what Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called the world's largest inoculation programme with priority to be given to nearly three crore healthcare and frontline workers.
According to the COVID-19 Vaccine Operational Guidelines issued to states for the immunisation drive by health ministry, the COVID-19 vaccine will be offered first to healthcare workers, and frontline workers and then to persons above 50 years of age, followed by persons younger than 50 years of age with associated comorbidities based on evolving pandemic situation.