Inclusion of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine in Universal Immunization Programme in India

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Incidence of Pneumonia among under-fives in India is 0.37 episodes/year,resulting in 43 million new cases. Pneumonia causes an estimated 408,000 deaths among under-fives contributing 19% of child mortality in India. Currently pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) seen to be the only public health tool capable of reducing the burden of pneumococcal diseases in developing countries including india and this justifies its inclusion in the Universal Immunization Programme (National Immunization Program) in India.

The Indian Academy of Pediatrics has recommended the inclusion of PCV in the Immunization schedule for children in India. WHO in 2007 recommended to include PCV in the National Immunization Program of any country with under 5 Mortality Rate(MR)  > 50/1000 live births. With under 5 MR of 72/1000 live births and nearly 2 million under-five deaths per year, India merits to include PCV with high priority in National Immunization Program. Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization (GAVI)  has offered to supply PCV at a cost of 0.15-0.30 USD/dose to India for inclusion in the national immunization program and commits to extending this support until the year 2015.

Inclusion of PCV in the Universal Immunization Programme means that all children in India will get the vaccine free of cost. With the new government of India making a decision to add  four new vaccines to the Universal Immunization Programme, there certainly is an opportunity and need for adding one more vaccine, PCV to the Programme.

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