The Department of Health and Family Welfare plans to introduce the pentavalent vaccine for all children starting in January. The exact dates for the inauguration of the program would be announced shortly.

The vaccine will be administered to children at six weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks from this year onwards. With this vaccine, it is possible to administer diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, Hepatitis B and Hib (Hemophilus influenza type b) vaccines in one injection, Director of Health and Family Welfare K.V. Raman said on Friday.

Speaking at a media engagement workshop for the release of pentavalent vaccine here , Dr. Raman said the aim of the government was to reduce infant mortality rate (IMR) to less than 10 per 1,000. At present, the IMR was 19 per 1000, he said.

Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine is being introduced for the first time, while other vaccines in the pentavalent vaccine are already being administered individually.

Addressing the gathering, Routine Immunisation and New Vaccine Focal Person for the World Health Organization Chandrakant Lahariya said the decision to introduce the Hib vaccine into India came in 2008, and it was later decided that it would be rolled out in a phased manner. The vaccine was introduced in Kerala and Tamil Nadu in 2011 and in 2012 in Haryana. So far, according to studies conducted, there was no specific problem with the introduction of the vaccine. The vaccine is manufactured in India and costs the government Rs. 100 per dose. It is currently being funded by the GAVI Alliance, but the Centre would take up the funding for the vaccination program shortly, he said.

The decision to introduce Pentavalent vaccine came after WHO recommendation in 2006 that all countries should introduce a Hib vaccine. By the end of 2012, nearly 180 countries out of 194 WHO members had introduced the vaccine into their national immunisation programmes.