Pneumonia vaccine to be part of immunization

India has 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.

It is a three-dose pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV). The vaccine will give protection against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria which cause pneumonia disease.

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.

India’s burden of childhood pneumonia

Every year, 59 lakh children die worldwide before their fifth birthday, of them 9% die due to diarrhoea, 16% 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 four spots.

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

There are over 90 different types of pneumococcal bacteria which cause a range of problems.

Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP)

The national policy of Immunisation of all children during the first year of life with DPT, OPV, BCG to complete the series of primary vaccination before reaching the age of one year was adopted in 1978 .

Universal Immunisation programme UIP was launched in 1985 in a phased manner.

The Vaccination Schedule under the UIP is:

  1. BCG (Bacillus Calmette Guerin) for protection against TB
  2. DPT (Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus Toxoid)
  3. OPV (Oral Polio Vaccine)
  4. Hepatitis B vaccine
  5. Measles
  6. TT (Tetanus Toxoid)
  7. Japanese Encephalitis vaccine
  8. Rubella vaccine
  9. Rotavirus vaccine
  10. TT – for pregnant woman

Pentavalent Vaccine is a combination of five vaccines in one: (Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus(DPT), Hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b).

As per Universal Immunization Programme, Pentavalent Vaccine should be started for any child aged more than 6 weeks and can be given up to 1 year of age. Three doses of pentavalent vaccine are included in UIP.