Chennai, July 13(BPNS)
Tamil Nadu health minister Ma Subramanian inaugurated the pneumococcal vaccine for children under the age of five years on Tuesday at a Public health centre at Poonamalle.
In his inaugural address, the minister said that bringing in Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine( PCV) under a universal immunization program will reduce the death rate in children under five years of age due to pneumonia and meningitis.
Each child, according to the state health department, will take three doses of vaccine, in the 6th week,14th week, and 9th month. This is to protect children from pneumonia one of the major causes for the death of children under the age of five.
Earlier the children used to receive oral polio vaccine(OPV), rotavirus vaccine (oral drops), inactivated polio vaccine( IPV), and Penta vaccine( intramuscular injection) under the Universal Immunisation Programme( UIV). This list will now be joined by Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine(PCV). All these vaccines are administered free of cost to children.
The state health department statement said that Pneumonia in children is mainly caused by Hemophilus influenza and Streptococcus pneumonia. While the incidence of pneumonia due to Hemophilus influenza was earlier 85%, it has now reduced to 15% due to the Penta vaccine administered under the Universal Immunisation Programme( UIP). With the administration of PCV, pneumonia due to Streptococcus pneumonia will be reduced, the health department said and this will lead to an eventual reduction in mortality rates due to pneumonia.
The health department stated that this program has reduced the incidences of pneumonia among children in developed countries like the United States of America.
The vaccine is expensive in the public market and costs anywhere between Rs 1500 to Rs 3200 per dose of the vaccine. Including the vaccine under Universal Immunisation Programme(UIP), it has become available free of cost, according to senior pediatricians.
With medical organisations like the Indian Medical Association (IMA) warning on the possibility of a third wave of the pandemic, the Tamil Nadu government took initiative to vaccinate children under the age of five with the Pneumococcus vaccine is widely accepted in health circles as a welcome sign.
Dr. Manoj Madhavadas, a pediatrician at Chennai while speaking to IANS said,” The pneumonia is a dangerous disease among toddlers and by including Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine under the UIP, several children will be beneficial and this, in turn, will help the children not to contract a disease like pneumonia which when coupled with a possibility of Covid-19 will turn fatal in many cases.”