Till now, the vaccine was imported from China and its availability was an issue, the minister said, terming the launch of JENVAC a historic occasion.
He further said the JE virus, which was first reported in in Vellore district of Tamil Nadu in 1955, has now spread to over 171 districts in 19 states.
“The need for this vaccine is immense as the birth cohort in the affected 171 districts is about 40 lakh annually, which means we would eventually need about 1 crore doses of the vaccine for comprehensive coverage,” Azad said.
Azad said that after acceptance of GoM recommendations for a comprehensive multi-pronged strategy for the prevention and control of Japanese Encephalitis and acute encephalitis syndrome, the Union Cabinet gave its approval for a ‘National Programme for Prevention and Control of JE and AES’ with a fund outlay of more than Rs 4,000 crore.
This programme is now being implemented in 60 priority districts of the country for a period of five years from 2012-13 to 2016-17 by the concerned ministries.
Interventions are being focused on five states of Assam, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, Azad said.
The vaccine has been jointly developed by scientists of National Institute of Virology, Pune, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Bharat Biotech Limited.