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State to roll out new vaccine

The Jharkhand government is all set to introduce pentavalent vaccine — a conjugate vaccine that combines antigens against five infections in a shot — in its immunisation programme from October.

Deputy director (health services) Dr Ajit Prasad on Thursday said the vaccine would be rolled out to fight Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) infection — a major cause of meningitis and pneumonia deaths in children — across the state. Pentavalent vaccine can prevent diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT), hepatitis B and Hib.

Speaking at the launch of the state chapter of Alliance for Immunisation in India (AII), a joint initiative of civil society organisations, at a Ranchi hotel, Prasad claimed the state had recorded remarkable improvement in this regard. “Only 8.38 per cent children were immunised when the state was formed. We managed to immunise 69.9 per cent kids till 2012-13, reducing the infant mortality rate to 36 per 1,000,” he added.

Prasad, however, admitted that still a lot needed to be done. “Around 2.3 lakh children are yet to be covered. Again, some children drop out midway during the course of the process, which needs to be curbed,” he pointed out.

According to health department sources, one dose of BCG, three doses of DPT and OPV and one dose of anti-measles vaccine used to be considered enough to ensure complete immunisation of children. But now, three more vaccines — pentavalent and (prevention against) Rotavirus and Japanese encephalitis — are also being made a part of the immunisation programme.

Meena Karimi, national programme manager of AII, “The government has a robust plan but some loopholes are undermining the objective. Lack of infrastructure and human resources are proving to be the impediments.”

Karimi added AII intended to play a complimentary role to bridge these gaps with the help of civil society organisations.