Contributed by For Child Health:

Vaccine preventable diseases cause one in four deaths of children under age of 5 – an estimated 1.5 million children – worldwide each year.

Of these, infectious diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia continue to cost most lives and pose the biggest challenge to child health today.

Pneumonia, an infection of the lungs was the sole cause of 20 children dying each hour in 2015. Risk factors for pneumonia among children include malnutrition, indoor air pollution, parental smoking and crowded homes – all common realities for many Indian families.

However, there is a silver lining to this dark cloud – pneumonia can be prevented through vaccination. In fact, there are several vaccines that prevent different types of pneumonia. One such vaccine protects against a common and serious cause of bacterial pneumonia, called the 'Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine' (PCV).

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1. This vaccine protects children from a bacteria that can cause several types of illness


The Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine, also known as PCV, helps protect children from a bacterium called Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus), which can cause several types of illness.

2. Pneumococcal disease is one of the leading causes of death among Indian children


Pneumococcus is the most common bacterial cause of severe pneumonia among young children. It can also cause ear and sinus infections, sepsis and meningitis. India losesone child every eight minutes to pneumococcal disease.

3. PCV is currently in use in more than 140 countries


Countries where the vaccine has been used routinely for a while, have seen substantial decrease in pneumococcal disease including pneumonia and meningitis.

4. Last year, India introduced PCV in its Universal Immunization Programme (UIP)


The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) recommended that India introduce PCV in 2015. In 2017, the government introduced PCV in the Universal Immunization Programme, and it is now being scaled up nationally!

5. Currently, the life-saving vaccine is available in five states and still scaling 


In May 2017, India began a phased rollout of PCV to cover approximately 2.1 million children across 35 districts of three states — Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar — in the first phase. In the second phase in 2018, it has been introduced in Madhya Pradesh, some districts of Rajasthan and additional districts in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

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6. PCV saves lives and lots of money


Before its introduction in India’s Universal Immunization Programme, PCV was only available in the private market, which meant it was expensive and many low-income families – who needed it the most – could not access it.  Now, under the UIP, this vaccine is available to all free of cost!

By protecting children against the disease, PCV helps families avoid the heavy costs of treating a disease like pneumonia, which can require antibiotics and even, hospitalizations. These costs can push families into poverty. PCV helps avoid that.

7. PCV can also indirectly protect against ‘superbugs’


PCV contributes to the fight against anti-microbial resistance, a process by which infectious bacteria can develop resistance to antibiotics over time. These drug-resistant bacteria are a very real and growing problem in India and across the world. Vaccines like PCV are a great way to combat this, since they prevent infections from occurring in the first place, reducing the need for antibiotics.

India has shown great progress in combatting pneumonia over the last few years. But we still have the highest burden of these deaths in the world. With superhero vaccines like PCV, we can look forward to a future where no child, in india or the world, dies of diseases like pneumonia!

Global Citizen India and For Child Health support UN Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring healthy lives and well being of all people. Take action here with Global Citizen and For Child Health to make sure everyone can get the health services they need no matter who they are, where they live, or what their income.

For Child Health is a platform to promote every child's right to a healthy and happy childhood by increasing awareness about vaccines in India. It is supported by Global Health Strategies, which works on a number of pressing public health issues in India and internationally.


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