WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

NTAGI recommends scale-up of pentavalent vaccine in India

The GAVI Alliance expressed its support on Thursday for the decision made by India's National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation to recommend the national scale-up of the five-in-one pentavalent vaccine.

The five-in-one pentavalent vaccine combines the antigens from the standard diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine with antigens for hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type B. Hib is third biggest vaccine preventable cause of death in children under the age of five worldwide with 400,000 deaths annually.

The vaccine for Hib was previously only available in India in the country's private sector.

"GAVI applauds this decision and India's leadership in the fight to reduce childhood mortality," Seth Berkley, the CEO of the GAVI Alliance, said. "Expanding access to pentavalent vaccines will play a key role averting the deaths associated with Hib pneumonia and meningitis, and liver cancer. NTAGI's recommendation will ultimately strengthen India's routine immunization program and ensure that vaccines reach those most in need. India is one of world's largest producers of vaccines, we hope this is the beginning of a new era in public health in India where highly cost-effective Indian vaccines are used locally to reduce infant mortality."

The pentavalent vaccines were first introduced in India in Tamil Nadu and Kerala in 2011 on a pilot basis. Since then, the vaccines were introduced in seven other Indian states with GAVI support.

The decision by NTAGI to approve the national scale-up of the vaccine comes after a recommendation from its technical subcommittee.