The health department has launched a training programme for health workers for the first immunisation programme against pneumonia in the state. Children aged between six weeks and nine months will now be administered the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV).
The vaccine, which protects children against diseases like pneumonia and meningitis, is expected to be rolled out in the second week of October. According to health department officials, some states had already launched the PCV programme under their Universal Immunisation Programme a few years ago, but the state government will introduce the vaccine for the first time in Bengal. The vaccine so far is available in private health units.
“The training of grassroots-level health workers, including accredited social health activists, Anganwadi workers, auxiliary nurse midwife workers, general nursing and midwifery workers and also doctors for the administration of PCV is underway in Darjeeling district. The shots will be given on the right leg of babies. The training sessions will be completed soon, and the health department will also go for a sensitization programme,” a source at the
the health department said.
The PCV targets the pneumococcal bacterium, which causes pneumonia and other serious life-threatening diseases such as meningitis and sepsis, experts say, adding that it can help restrict the infant mortality rate. According to a senior official of the department, children would get their first shot when they are six weeks old, second at 14 weeks and the final booster dose at nine months.
“We are requesting mothers to get the PCV at the same time when their babies get the first dose of polio, rotavirus, pentavalent vaccine and other routine vaccines at six weeks. There should not be any reluctance on the part of the mothers because the vaccine is expected to check the children from getting infected with respiratory distresses like pneumonia,” said Darjeeling district chief medical officer of health Dr Pralay Acharya.