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Times of India
24 May 2011
By Pratibha Masand
Mumbai, India

The affluent class, which is supposed to be more aware of the importance of immunization against polio than their counterparts on the lower economic strata, was responsible for the low turnout at the civic vaccination drive on Sunday.

On the first day of the current pulse polio campaign, only 57.58% children below the age of five years was vaccinated and going by the records, most parents who gave the exercise a miss were from highrise buildings, a civic official said. "They know for a fact that health workers will go to every home and immunize their children in the week that follows.

That is why they did not visit the polio camps on the first day," said an official of the polio department of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. "However, most parents from poorer background, those who stay in slums and chawls, brought their children to the camps and were quite enthusiastic about getting the kids vaccinated on the very first day."

Summer vacation in schools could also be a reason for the drop in the presence of "well–off " children. Dr Kishore Harugoli, BMC’s incharge of the pulse polio drive, said most of these children have gone on trips out of Mumbai.

High-Rise Parents Skip Polio Drive on Sunday
"Every year, during the summer, we do register a slide in the number of children as families go away on vacations. In the past four years, the turnout on the first day has been low," he said. After the first day of the drive, the civic body tries to cover the "left–out" children in the following week. "We achieve about 96–97 % immunization by the end of the drive.

But many families stay out of the town on trips during the entire week and we miss their children," Harugoli said. "We will discuss with the government and try not to hold the vaccination drives during the vacation time. We could also conduct an extra round later in the year."

Another BMC official said they had noticed that in other parts, usually particular communities would stay away from the vaccination drive, but it was not so in Mumbai. "In Mumbai, we have not come across any particular community not bringing their children for their pulse polio drops. Because of our extensive awareness programmes, a parent usually does not forget to take her child for vaccination in consecutive drives," the official added.

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