Pentavalent vaccine, including the vaccine against Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (Hib), as part of the Universal Immunisation Programme, was rolled out across the State on Wednesday, making Kerala the first State in the country to include the five-in-one vaccine in the national immunisation schedule for infants

The State-level roll out of the vaccine was held at the Women and Children Hospital, Thycaud, where two-and-a-half-month-old Ardra was the first infant to be immunised using the pentavalent vaccine, which will be administered free of cost to all infants in all government hospitals hence forth.

Health Minister Adoor Prakash administered the first dose of oral polio vaccine (OPV) to Ardra, who was then given the pentavalent vaccine shot by the nursing staff.

The pentavalent vaccine, which protects children against five diseases in one shot – diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B and Hib – is being introduced under UIP in place of the trivalent DPT vaccine. Mr. Prakash said that the introduction of Hib vaccination would help Kerala bring down its infant mortality further.

The pentavalent vaccine launch in Kerala also being its national launch, a member of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) Secretariat from Geneva, Mercy Ahun, was also present on the occasion.

GAVI has pledged over Rs.700 crore to give the pentavalent vaccine to the Union Health Ministry free of cost for the first three years.

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