Five-in-one vaccine now available for free in Delhi healthcare facilities

Activists concerned about deaths caused by pentavalent vaccine

By Jyotsna Singh
Published: Wednesday 13 March 2013

The Delhi government on Tuesday formally launched the controversial pentavalent vaccine. It will now be available at nearly 650 public health centres (PHCs) and 32 major government hospitals in Delhi.
The five-in-one vaccine helps develop immunity against five diseases—diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B, and haemophilus influenza type B (associated pneumonia and meningitis).

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said that the city government has taken a major step to ensure disease-free childhood in the capital. She stated that the pentavalent vaccine is child-friendly as the prick of a single injection, instead of three, will protect young children from several diseases.

Health activists, however, have a different notion about the vaccine. Jacob Puliyel, head of the paediatrics department at St Stephen's Hospital in Delhi said that 15 deaths attributed to use of the vaccine have been reported in other parts of the country so far.

The vaccine was initially introduced on pilot basis in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. In December 2012, Haryana also launched the vaccine. The proposal has now also been finalised in Madhya Pradesh. Gujarat, Karnataka, Goa, Jammu and Kashmir and Puducherry to introduce the vaccine.

The vaccine will be available free of cost at PHCs on Wednesdays and Fridays and on all working days in Delhi government hospitals.

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