Kerala kids to get new pentavalent vaccine shots

December 6th, 2011 - 6:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 6 (IANS) As part of the Universal Immunisation Programme of the Indian government, Kerala will Dec 14 introduce the pentavalent vaccine which provides protection to a child from five life-threatening diseases.

“In a year, 5.5 lakh kids in the state would have received a shot of this vaccine,” Rajiv Sadanandan, principal secretary in the state’s health department, told reporters here Tuesday at an interaction with the media ahead of the launch of the vaccine in the state.

The vaccine provides protection from diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B and haemophilus influenza type B (HiB).

The pentavalent vaccine will replace the current hepatitis B and DPT primary vaccines schedule in the immunisation programme.

“I am not worried of the price of this new vaccine in the open market because I am getting it free,” said Sadanandan when asked if the price of the vaccines would be a burden on the state.

This new vaccine is being launched at the grassroots level in Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the first phase because of the hugely successful immunisation coverage these states have.

The health official pointed out that the vaccine has been used in the private sector for many years and it has been found to be the safest.

“If this is good for the elite, then it is going to be good for all,” he added.

About complaints on the safety of the vaccine after deaths occurred in Uttar Pradesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bhutan, Satish Gupta, health specialist with UNICEF, said investigations have made it clear that the deaths were not caused by pentavalent vaccine.

“In Uttar Pradesh, it has now been found that pentavalent vaccine was not given,” Gupta said.

“Likewise, in neighbouring countries also deaths were reported but it was found that they did not occur due to the new vaccine. Now it has been re-introduced in these countries also,” he added.

In reply to a question if children need to be protected against haemophilus influenza type B as it is reported to be found more in very cold countries, Sadanandan said it was a wrong statement because studies from the premier state government-run children’s hospital here showed new-born baby deaths occurred on account of neo-natal pneumonia.

“The government of Kerala is seriously concerned about how to bring down the infant mortality in the state from the present 12 (per 1,000 births) to six in the next five years,” he said.

The infant mortality in the country currently stands at 53 per 1,000 births and in the US it stands at seven.

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