The health ministry will launch the PCV (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) in 17 districts of Bihar, till now only available in the private sector, under the universal immunisation programme this month.
Available in 139 countries, the vaccine protects children against pneumococcal diseases caused by the streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. Experts say this bacteria causes 30 per cent of the total deaths from pneumonia.
"The vaccine's launch would bring down child deaths caused by pneumonia. Though the vaccine is available in the private sector for many years, it was inaccessible to poor people. In the private sector, two doses of the pneumococcal vaccine costs Rs 4,000-9,000," said a Bihar health official.
The vaccine will be launched in Araria, Begusarai, Darbhanga, Kishanganj, Khagaria, Katihar, Muzaffarpur, Munger, Vaishali, Madhepura, Madhubani, Purnea, Samastipur, Saran, Sitamarhi, Sheohar and Supaul.