PATNA: Infants in Bihar’s 21 districts will be administered Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) against pneumonia at all government hospitals and health centres free of cost from June.
“The PCV vaccine was being administered to infants in 17 districts for the last one year. Now the remaining 21 districts will be covered,” additional director-cum-state immunisation officer Dr N K Sinha said on Monday.
The vaccination drive will be carried out as per the directives of National Technological Advisory Group on Immunization. The drive will be carried with technical support of World Health Organisation and Unicef. This first two primary doses of the vaccine will be administered at 6 and 14 weeks and the booster dose at 9 months.
“The under-5 mortality rate due to pneumonia in Bihar is 13%. With PCV, this rate will drastically fall,” Unicef health specialist Dr Sayyed Hube Ali said. As per the National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-2016), nearly 1,78,994 children in India under-5 years died due to pneumonia. Of them, 21,000 were from Bihar. At least 70% of pneumonia cases of India are reported from Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, UP and Rajasthan alone.
The state government also plans to introduce a combined measles and rubella (MR) vaccine. Dr Ali said the MR vaccine would most probably be administered to children between 9-15 months of age from November this year. “The state government plans to cover an estimated 4.6 crore children, the estimation being based on total population,” Dr Ali said.
As per the national immunization goals, India has planned to eliminate measles and control congenital rubella syndrome caused by the rubella virus by 2020. Immunization against measles was already being carried out by the government, but this will be for the first time that the state government will introduce the rubella vaccine for the population.
Rubella is a mild viral infection that mainly infects children. A woman infected with the virus during pregnancy has 90% chance of transmitting it to the foetus. It may cause several congenital anomalies, and may also cause physical deformities and limb defects.
The government also plans to introduce Rotavirus vaccine in next fiscal. The vaccine will prevent Rotavirus diarrhoea in children, which accounts for approximately 54.8 % of hospitalization of children under 5 years of age in the state (NHFS-4). “The Rotavirus vaccine will also help curb under-5 mortality rate due to diarrhoea in the state,” Dr Ali said.
The Rotavirus vaccine was first introduced in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha in 2016. In 2017, the vaccine covered Assam, Tripura, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. In April this year, the vaccine was launched in Bihar’s neighbouring Jharkhand.