People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 45

November 16, 2008


Severe Shortage of Vaccines in the country

Expressing grave concern over the severe shortage of vaccines in various states in the country, CPI(M) MP Brinda Karat, in a letter to Health minister Anbumani Ramdoss on November 11, 2008, has said that the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) in various states including West Bengal is suffering due to the shortage. She said that the information given by the minister earlier during the discussion on The Drugs & Cosmetics (amendment) Bill was not factually correct and the shortage still continues and it concerns a range of vaccines not just “one or two.”

The shortages for West Bengal from April till October 27, 2008 are as follows:

Vaccines Quantity available Quantity Due Percentage of shortage

TT-PW 3092260 9875240 68.69

BCG 3798900 4339100 12.45

DPT 1533500 13325094 88.49

HEP B 2394000 6583500 63.64

MEASLES 1075750 1916750 43.88

DT 8000 3152750 99.75

In the first week of November, an additional three lakh doses of DPT was supplied of the 1.33 crore doses of DPT required. Thus the shortage continues to be severe.

But it is not only Bengal, which is suffering the shortage. In Tripura, whereas the annual requirement of six antigens is 3.80 lakh doses, till October 31, the total number received is only 1.25 lakh doses, a shortage of 67.11 per cent. Shockingly of the 93,000 doses of DPT required, the state has received not a single dose till October.

In Orissa, the annual requirement of some of the antigens is as follows: DPT- 56.79 lakhs; quantity provided 11 lakhs ; percentage of shortage 80.63 . Measles - total annual requirement 13.63 lakhs; quantity provided: 4.5 lakhs. Percentage of shortage- 66.98. DT-not a single dose has been provided

In Kerala, the short supply against the total requirement of last seven months (including buffer stock) is – BCG: 15.31 per cent; DPT: 40.53 per cent and DT as high as 88.42 per cent.

Thus, it would appear that the UIP is severely compromised because of the failure of the central government to provide the required vaccines. It would also appear that the DPT and DT programmes are virtually scrapped at least in these states, she said.

Brinda Karat requested the minister to ensure that the vaccines reach the states according to the requirement without any further delay as the shortages jeopardise the health of infants and children and furnish the information of the dispatch of the vaccines as soon as it is done. She also asked him to grant immediate permission for production of vaccines in the three public sector vaccine producing units. Clearly, the stoppage of production in these units is one of the reasons of the present severe shortage, particularly in DPT and DT, she said.