Kerala

State to launch pneumonia immunisation

The State is introducing a new vaccine - pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) - in the schedule of the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) from October, which will protect small children from pneumonia, meningitis and blood infections induced by streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, which causes over one-lakh infant deaths annually in the country.

Though PCV has been available for a long time in the private health sector, it was first introduced in the UIP schedule by the Union Ministry for Health and Family Welfare in 2017 May in the States of Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, selected districts of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

The vaccine will be administered to all infants in public sector hospitals, free of cost, from October as soon as the health workers’ training is completed. The vaccine will be given in three doses to infants at one-and-a-half months, three-and-a-half months and nine months.

With the introduction of PCV, children will be protected against 12 vaccine-preventable diseases.

The other vaccines in the current UIP schedule in Kerala include BCG (severe form of childhood tuberculosis), pentavalent vaccine (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B and haemophilus influenza B)), polio (oral vaccine and inactivated injectable vaccine), rotavirus, and MR (Measles-Rubella) and JE vaccine in three select districts.

Pneumococcal pneumonia is one of the leading causes of mortality among children below five years. It is not only hard to treat, its treatment is also prohibitively expensive.

It is important to prevent this disease as it presents suddenly “like a storm,’ leaving the clinician little room for any intervention. The vaccine is also very expensive and was being prescribed in Kerala by paediatricians in the private sector alone.

Now that it has been included in the UIP, all children below one year of age in the State will receive the same vaccines as are being given in the private sector. The vaccine is safe and can be given along with other vaccines in the immunisation schedule.


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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 4:24:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/state-to-launch-pneumonia-immunisation/article36537921.ece

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