NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the government would soon introduce four new vaccines against rotavirus, rubella, polio and Japanese encephalitis, as part of the nation’s universal immunisation programme (UIP).
“The vaccines against rotavirus, rubella and polio (injectable) will collectively expedite India’s progress on meeting the Millennium Development Goal-4 targets to reduce child mortality by two-thirds by the year 2015 and meet global polio eradication targets,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said.
“In addition, an adult vaccine against Japanese encephalitis will be introduced in districts with high incidence of the disease,” it said.
Along with the recent introduction of the pentavalent vaccine, the decision represented one of the most significant policy leaps in 30 years in public health, preventing at least one lakh infant deaths, deaths of adults in the working age group and up to 10 lakh hospitalisations each year.
With these new vaccines, the country’s UIP will now provide free vaccines against 13 life threatening diseases to 27 million children annually, the largest birth cohort in the world.
“Many of these vaccines are already available through private practitioners to those who can afford them. The government will now ensure that the benefits of vaccination reach all sections of society, regardless of social and economic status,” Modi said. “India is committed to tackle child mortality and provide health for all through multiple initiatives taken up by the government. Strengthening routine immunization is an essential investment in India’s children and will ensure a healthy future for the country,” he said, while announcing the government decision.
The recommendations to introduce new vaccines have been made after numerous scientific studies and comprehensive deliberations by the National Technical Advisory Group of India (NTAGI), the country’s apex scientific advisory body on immunisation.