For the past week, anganwadi worker Vidya Shinde has been counselling residents of Mumbai’s Rafi Nagar slum about why they need to ensure that their children are fully vaccinated against measles. Shinde heads out on her rounds after providing meals to children at the local anganwadi centre, which provides care for children under six years of age, and pregnant and lactating women.
She often hears a string of familiar excuses: “my child has fever”, “he is sleeping”, “I will come later”. On November 11, as she emerged from a narrow labyrinth of lanes, she spotted someone she knew. “Aayat ki mummy,” she called out. Aayat’s mother. “Vaccine dose?” The woman said that after her daughter got her first measles dose, she developed a fever. So she did not go for a second dose. “I have to go for work,” she told Shinde. “If she develops fever again, I can’t take any leave.”
Rafi Nagar, a pocket within the Shivaji Nagar slum in north-eastern Mumbai, has been reeling under a measles outbreak for the past three weeks. Since October 26, six children in the area have died of complications suspected to be related to measles.
The outbreak has now spread beyond Rafi Nagar to…