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45,000 infants in Cachar to get Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine; “Use the opportunity,” DC Cachar says after launching drive

The covid-19 vaccination drive is going on in full swing all over the country. However, India also has a vast and efficient network of delivering vaccine doses to infants and children against many other infectious agents like german measles, polio, typhoid, rotavirus, hepatitis B and other bacterial and viral infections under the Universal Immunisation Programme. It targets 2.67 crore newborns and 2.9 crore pregnant women annually and is one of the most cost-effective public health interventions largely responsible for reduction of mortality rate in infants aged less than 5.

Under the same programme, Assam Govt. has today launched a campaign to vaccinate infants with the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) against disease caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus). Health Minister of Assam, Keshab Mahanta launched the vaccination drive in State Dispensary, Khanapara and virtually across Assam. He also urged parents to get their children immunised and be protected from the bacterial infection.

Joining rest of the state, Deputy of Commisioner of Cachar Keerti Jalli too launched the vaccine drive in the district at 10 am in the conference hall of S.M. Dev Civil Hospital, Silchar for infants and young children ceremoniously. The aim is to vaccinate 45,000 infants in the Cachar district.

Shedding light on the vaccine drive Jalli said, “Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) helps fight pneumonia causing bacteria and septicemia. These two have been leading causes of death in infants. Even as a precautionary measure over a probable 3rd wave, as there is no Covid vaccine for children, PCV shall hopefully act as a round of defense.”

She appealed, “Hence I am requesting all lactating mothers to please bring their child (below one year) to their nearest health centre. Its a great opportunity as despite being a costly vaccine government is giving it for free. Request all to make use of this.”

As doctors are getting more experienced in treating covid patients, the disease and it’s implications as well as potential outcomes are starting to get unearthed. One of the risk factors associated with covid-19 is secondary bacterial pneumonia. After recovering from covid infection, the body’s immunity is at it’s lowest making it a breeding ground for other bacterial and fungal infections. In recent studies on covid-19 patients, secondary bacterial infections were significantly associated with worse outcomes and death despite antimicrobial therapies. Hence, to prevent manifestation of any secondary bacterial pneumonia during or post covid infection, the PCV vaccine might act as a potent weapon and reduce the severity of covid-19 in infants and children if exposed to the virus.

The bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae can spread from person-to-person contact and can lead to serious infections like pneumonia, blood infections, and bacterial meningitis.

Common side effects after taking the PCV vaccine are similar to covid-19 vaccine and include redness, pain or swelling at the injection site, fever, irritability drowsiness, and loss of appetite. Note many won’t have any side effect after taking the vaccine and everyone won’t have all of the listed side effects either.

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