Five-in-one Vaccine to be Introduced Soon
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26 April 2011
By Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi, India
After years of discussion and a recent promise to Bill Gates, India is now rolling out the country's first pentavalent vaccine.
The Union health ministry has written to the governments of Tamil Nadu and Kerala â€” the two states where the five–in–one vaccine will be first introduced, because of their high routine immunization coverage rate, to put in place manpower, train them and also finalise the implementation plan.
The ministry has also sent a letter to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) asking them to dispatch the vaccine doses at the earliest.
GAVI, which is providing the vaccines free of cost to the ministry for the time being, has asked UNICEF to procure the vaccines and send them to India.
India plans to vaccinate 16 lakh children in these two states in the first year. The five–in–one vaccine will have diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus (DPT), Hepatitis B and HIB (Haemophilus influenzae type B the bacterial microorganism that causes several serious childhood illnesses like meningitis and pneumonia).
Besides this shot, children will also get their oral polio doses as part of the routine immunization rounds.
"We are bringing to India the liquid pentavalent vaccine which are readymade. It will be a 10–dose package which will prove cheaper since it will require less storage space, lesser volume of cold chain and reduced transportation cost. All children attending the routine immunisation rounds will get the pentavalent shot at 6, 10 and 14 weeks. For the first year, we will require over 50 lakh doses. The vaccine vials will reach us by the end of June and the vaccine use will be rolled out immediately after that," a ministry official said.
"HIB will prevent pneumonia in children. In the under five mortality, 20% are caused by pneumonia. And one–third of the pneumonia mortality is caused by HIB," the official added.
The health ministry had initially thought of introducing pentavalent in 10 states, including Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Karnataka. However, the vaccine's cost made the ministry start with just two states.
A ministry official told TOI, "The pentavalent vaccine will greatly reduce chances of drop–out, will need no additional cold chain space as vaccine vials will reduce and the number of syringes used will also fall."
The introduction of a pentavalent vaccine was recommended by the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) on June 16, 2008.