Centre launches pneumococcal vaccine for 21 lakh children
The Centre launched the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) under its Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) on May 13.
PCV prevents severe forms of pneumococcal disease, including pneumonia and meningitis.
In the first phase, the vaccine is being administered to 21 lakh children in Himachal Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. The scheme will later be extended to Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and then the entire country.
All about Centre's Universal Immunization Programme
Statistics of pneumonia in India
Out of all infectious diseases, Pneumonia is the biggest killer of children under five in India as well as globally; India accounts for 20% of these deaths internationally.
To tackle the problem, the pentavalent vaccine was scaled up in all states under the UIP last year, which protects against Haemophilus influenzae Type B pneumonia.
Centre's immunization aim
The UIP has managed to provide immunization to over 2.6 crore beneficiaries. It started with covering six preventable diseases, but now protects against 12.
In line with its aim, the government sought to bring the PCV, which was available earlier too but only in the private sector, to "those who need them the most, the underprivileged and underserved".