The vaccine will provide protection against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B and Hib.

The administration of the five-in-one pentavalent vaccine in government hospitals will begin in the district on Wednesday. It will be launched at the community health centre at Malippuram at 10 a.m, according to District Collector P.I. Sheikh Pareed.

Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been selected by the Centre for the introduction of the vaccine under the Universal Immunization Programme. The new vaccine will provide protection to newborns against five types of dangerous infections - Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib). It will replace the prevalent Hepatitis B and DPT vaccinations in the immunisation programme. While the existing vaccination already offers protection from the first four infections, the new vaccine will also offer protection against Hib which could cause pneumonia, septic arthritis, and meningitis, said Reproductive and Child Health Officer R. Shanthakumari.

She said that pentavalent was not a new vaccine but is already being administered at private hospitals. Only, it is now being introduced in the government hospitals as well. While a dose would cost anywhere between Rs. 750 and Rs. 850 in private hospitals, it is being administered free at government hospitals. Newborns who have been given the first dose of pentavalent vaccine at a private hospital will be given the second dose at government hospitals if the parents chose so.

Beginning Wednesday, the vaccine will be administered at all 118 government hospitals and health centres. Besides the vaccine will be administered on specific days in community health centres. Pentavalent vaccine will have to be administered three doses by the age of one instead of the six needed under the prevailing system, sparing toddlers of three painful shots.

Dr. Shanthakumari said that 15,000 doses of vaccine have been made available to government hospitals.

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