Pneumonia vaccine to be part of immunisation plan

Photo: Reuters   | Photo Credit: Reuters

India on Saturday rolled out the long-awaited anti-pneumonia vaccine as part of the government’s Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP). The vaccine will protect children against severe forms of pneumococcal disease, such as pneumonia and meningitis.

The vaccine programme aims to protect nearly 270 lakh newborns against 12 preventable diseases every year.

Universal immunisation

“Our goal is to ensure that no child dies in the country from vaccine preventable diseases. We stand committed to reducing child deaths and providing a healthier future to our children. While these vaccines in the private sector were accessible to only those who could afford them, by making them available under the UIP, the government is ensuring equitable access to those who need them the most, the underprivileged and underserved,” Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda said while launching the vaccine.

Pneumococcal disease is the leading cause of vaccine-preventable deaths in children under five years of age globally and in India. India accounts for nearly 20% of global pneumonia deaths in this age group.

The three-dose pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) will be rolled out in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, six districts of Uttar Pradesh and 17 districts of Bihar as a part of the first phase. The vaccine will give protection against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria which cause pneumonia disease.

India’s burden

Every year, 59 lakh children die worldwide before their fifth birthday, of them 9% die due to diarrhoea, 16% die due to pneumonia. India shoulders the highest burden of child pneumonia and diarrhoea deaths with Nigeria, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola taking up the next 4 spots.

Currently, the vaccine is being rolled out to approximately 21 lakh children in the first phase. This will be followed by introduction in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan next year, and eventually be expanded to the country.

There are over 90 different types of pneumococcal bacteria which cause a range of problems including ear infections and serious chest infections pneumonia. This vaccine would help health department to control the pneumonia and child mortality rate. The vaccine will be administered under routine immunization programme in the country.

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Printable version | Sep 16, 2021 4:06:25 PM |

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