Panel to frame vaccine policy for State

The State Government has set up a seven-member committee to frame a vaccine policy for the State, as part of the efforts to establish a vaccine- manufacturing zone at the Life Sciences Park at Thonnakkal in the capital.

The said committee is chaired by B. Ekbal, who is also the chairperson of the State-level Expert Committee on COVID-19 Management .

One of the primary mandates of the committee is to examine the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) and the vaccine schedule currently being followed in the State and to make necessary modifications, if required. It has been a long-standing issue that while the public sector hospitals follow the UIP schedule of vaccinations for child immunisation, paediatricians in the private sector follow a vaccine schedule recommended by the Indian Academy of Paediatrics, which includes more optional childhood vaccines

It was only recently, with the introduction of the Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) in the UIP schedule by the Union Government that the immunisation schedule of all children below one year in the State became on par with the immunisation schedule followed by the private sector.

Epidemiological shift

Adult immunisation is another main subject that the committee will look into, as part of a vaccine policy for the State. Adult immunisation is being discussed in the context of the epidemiological shift in the State as the proportion of adults who have grown up without being exposed to childhood infections like chicken pox has been going up, putting them at increased risk of serious disease if they are exposed to the virus as adults. Also it had been found that young adults might require booster doses against diphtheria, a vaccine-preventable disease of childhood, immunity to which may be on the wane.

The vaccine policy will also address the introduction of the flu vaccine, pneumococcal vaccine and human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine for adults.

Terms of reference

The committee’s terms of reference also include preparing a protocol for administering vaccines to immunologically compromised adults, including cancer patients and organ transplant recipients.

Categorising vaccines to be administered as mandatory, optional and advisory is another aspect that the committee will examine.

The committee will also guide the Health Department on conducting epidemiological and cost effectiveness studies on vaccine usage as necessary.

The other members of the committee include R. Aravind, Professor of Infectious Diseases, Government Medical College,

Thiruvananthapuram; Chandni R., chairperson, Kerala State Medical Board; P.P Preetha, Additional Director of Health Services and member, State Technical Advisory Group on Immunization; C. Prathapa Chandran, Surveillance Medical Officer, WHO; R. Sajith Kumar, Professor of Infectious Diseases, Government Medical College, Kottayam and T.P. Jayaraman, Paediatrician, District Early Intervention Centre, Government Women and Children Hospital, Palakkad.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 5:40:45 PM |

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