November 2002, ‘Double Protection’
A newborn baby is crying. His hands are trying to catch the air and the eyes are seeking support. Suddenly the screen gets dark and the word ‘blindness’ penetrates the mind of the audience. In a second disappears the sound and another sinister word comes out – ‘deafness’. The silence turns into an agonizing heart beating – ‘heart disease’. All in all, it takes a few seconds, the audience startled with three terrible. All those can be prevented, - says the announcer - if you, Dear Women, would protect yourself from rubella in good time. “For the baby to be born healthy – get rubella vaccination”- this verse-like phrase has become a motto for a 4 month campaign against congenital rubella syndrome supported through UNICEF.
There were hardly any people left who could stay away – who could forget three terrible words threatening to darken the happy expression on the face of the lovely baby. The Campaign made even more impression on men than on women. This even caused a week long confusion in one of the Vaccination Centers in the Issyk-Kul Oblast. A group of fathers virtually attacked medical workers asking to provide them with vaccines. The Administration of the Center approached the Republican Immunoprophylactics Center with a request to permit vaccination of some men, attached was a letter: “… We, a group of 23 fathers, would like to receive rubella vaccination as we plan to have babies in future. We know how insidious this disease may be and want to double protect our families…”
No explanations, no arguments could help. The Administration had to permit vaccination of those 23 men. Having been vaccinated they got immunization certificates with a revised National Immunization Calendar for Children which now includes rubella and measles vaccinations.
Rubella vaccination for women at the age of 26-35 was the final stage of the implementation of the National Programme. The challenge now is to maintain people’s understanding of and trust in importance of immunisation for their children and help the Kyrgyz Government take over full responsibility of providing main package of vaccines for all children free of charge.