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New Vaccine to Combat Pneumococcal Diseases

Every year around the world nearly one million children under the age of five lose their lives to pneumonia and other pneumococcal diseases//.

Considering the fact that these deaths are preventable, WHO has recommended the inclusion of the 7-valet vaccine that addresses seven different strains of pneumococcal diseases in the immunization programs of developing countries.

Pneumococcal diseases, which affect the lungs, brain and the blood stream, can affect people of all age groups. Children, however, are more vulnerable with the highest risk period being the first 24 months of life.

Although the vaccine is to be introduced in the routine childhood immunization programs, it can also be administered to previously unvaccinated children in the age group of 12-24 months and to high risk children between the age of two to five years by a single catch up dose.

The vaccine is currently available in 74 countries and is part of the immunization programs of 16 of them. However, in India, the vaccine is yet to be officially introduced.

"Broad adoption of the WHO's recommendation has the potential to save millions of innocent lives around the world," said Ranga Iyer, managing director of Wyeth Limited, the pharmaceutical company whose product the vaccine is.

Although the vaccine was launched in India in June last year, Iyer said they were waiting for the green signal by the Indian government and the Indian Academy of Pediatricians (IAP) for it to be included in the national immunization program.

With the World Health Day just two days away, this is one of the steps WHO has taken to attain its goal this year - to achieve international health security.


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