Telangana: Immunisation schedule in disarray as PCV vax shortage continues

The vaccine plays a major role in decreasing the child mortality rate by preventing Pneumococcal diseases including pneumonia, brain or blood infection.

Published: 24th October 2022 08:01 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th October 2022 08:01 AM   |  A+A-

Representational Image.

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: Though the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare  (MoHFW) stated that there was no shortage of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV) meant for children in the country about 10 days ago, some primary and tertiary health care centres in Telangana still have no or very low stock available. The shortage is resulting in thousands of children missing their shots, increasing the risk of pneumonia-related diseases.

As per the National Immunisation Schedule, each child in the country is to be given three shots of PCV vaccine, first in the sixth week after birth, second in 14th week and a booster dose in the ninth month. The vaccine plays a major role in decreasing the child mortality rate by preventing Pneumococcal diseases including pneumonia, brain or blood infection.

For the last month, vaccination schedules have been disturbed in the State. Similar issues were reported earlier this month in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu as well. However, the MoHFW termed these reports “ill-informed” and said that a total of 70,18,817 (70.18 lakh) doses of PCV were available with all States and Union Territories as on October 7.

Nevertheless, a number of parents in the State are still complaining of the non-availability of PCV vaccine in the nearby government health centre. “I have been asking for the vaccine in the Dammaiguda Anganwadi centre for the last one month,” said Srikhande Umesh Kumar whose four-month-old daughter missed the second dose of the vaccine. The vaccine was not available in the neighbouring Anganwadi centres including Nagaram and PS Rao Nagar Colony as well, he added. 

All the three centres come under Keesara Primary Health Care centre in the Medchal-Malkajgiri district.
“There was a shortage of vaccines four weeks ago. We even contacted the district immunisation officer who confirmed that there was no stock available in the entire State. Though we have received the vaccines now there is still a 20 per cent shortfall,” said Dr M Saritha, a medical officer in Keesara PHC. 

A similar situation prevails in Gandhi Hospital where the vaccine has not been available for the last two months. “The column of PCV vaccine is ‘nil’ in a lot of vaccination files of children who come to me. When asked, the parents inform that the vaccine was not available. Sometimes parents are asked to go to a private centre to take the vaccine or told that only two doses are enough,” said Dr Shrikant Manda, a paediatrician and executive board member of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP). 

There seems to be no shortage of vaccines in the private sector where it is available for `1,500-`4,000 depending on the manufacturer. “If the stipulated time period is not followed for the vaccine, it will lose its effectiveness,” Dr Manda said.Only after all three doses in a given time period, the vaccine will provide complete protection against diseases, he said.However, denying that there was a shortage, Dr G Sudheera, Joint Director, Child Health and Immunisation, said that the vaccine was available all over the State. Dr Sudheera, however, refused to comment further. 


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