Late arrival of PCV vaccines to burn a hole in parents' pockets

Streptococcus pneumoniae are the leading cause of bacterial pneumonia in children under five years of age
Last Updated 26 February 2022, 18:45 IST

Four months after Karnataka launched the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), the costliest vaccine to be introduced in the immunisation programme, it received 3.8 lakh doses while the BBMP alone administered 13, 281 doses.

Streptococcus pneumoniae are the leading cause of bacterial pneumonia in children under five years of age.

Though around 12,000 infants were eligible for the vaccine in September, only those toddlers who were one and a half months old during the launch are eligible for the vaccine, as per the union government guidelines.

While Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai launched the PCV in Hubballi on October 22, the vaccination was launched in Bengaluru only in November. The vials reached government hospitals in December, by which time kids no longer fell in the age bracket mandated by the Centre.

The PCV vaccine is administered at one and a half months, three and a half months, and then at nine months. Old children must get vaccinated in private hospitals, where each dose will cost Rs 2,000. This gets costlier since parents must ensure their kids get three doses before they turn nine months.

The government-run KC General Hospital in Malleswaram has administered 191 doses since December 28 — 93 in January and 98 so far in February, said Dr Raghunandan B G, a paediatrician at the medical facility. The government supplies five-dose vials while in the private sector, it’s a single-dose vial, which is why it costs Rs 2,000, he added. “Spending Rs 6,000 on three doses per child will be expensive for parents,” he acknowledged.

Dr Mahantesh M, Resident Medical Officer, Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health, said the hospital had given 115 doses so far out of the 150 it received.

“Any vaccine when launched will be for prospective administration only,” Health Commissioner D Randeep said. “So as per schedule, PCV will be given to those children who come for the first time at six weeks, and then those children will be administered future doses at the recommended age, i.e., 14 weeks and booster at nine months of age.”

Randeep said the government had received only 3.8 lakh doses in two tranches while another two lakh doses were due to arrive.

“As per union government guidelines, older children will not be given PCV in government hospitals because PCV coverage will be matched with pentavalent vaccine coverage for monitoring, which is a programmatic decision,” Randeep added.

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(Published 26 February 2022, 17:24 IST)

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