Is A Vaccine For Pneumonia Free Of Cost For Children In India? Importance Of Pneumonia Vaccines
Pneumonia and pneumococcal diseases are significant reasons for health burden. It is one of the leading causes of death among children under five, killing approximately 800,000 children a year .
This death rate is more than that of malaria, HIV and measles combined. A vaccine for pneumonia can help prevent the severity of infection and deaths. Read further to understand the pneumonia vaccine efficacy and why vaccines are necessary.
Pneumonia is a severe infectious disease of the lungs, brain and blood that often results in the death of infants and children below five years of age. Streptococcus pneumoniae is a bacterial organism that infects the lungs, causes inflammation and fills the lungs with fluids causing breathing problems. Due to this infection, the ability to utilize oxygen reduces rapidly. As this condition progresses, it invades the blood, brain and lungs to cause permanent damage, ultimately leading to death.
Who Qualifies For Pneumonia Vaccination?
Children below two years of age and adults older than 65 years are all eligible for receiving the vaccine for pneumonia. Different types of vaccines are available for different age groups and their vaccination needs. Discuss your medical history and health issues with your doctor before receiving your first dose of the vaccine.
Clarify whether you or your child come under the category of risk. People who require the pneumonia vaccine include:
- Babies and premature babies
- Children and adults with health issues (down syndrome, diabetes, heart problems, kidney problems, etc.)
- Immunocompromised patients (due to HIV, cancer, organ transplant, etc.)
Pneumonia Vaccination For Children:
Ever wondered why children are more susceptible to pneumonia than others? Underprivileged children often suffer from malnutrition, low birth weight, indoor air pollution, overcrowding, and lack of vaccination for measles, making them prone to several types of infections. Hence the World Health Organisation and Centres for disease control suggest that children under two years of age should receive a pneumonia vaccine.
The government of India primarily funds for a vaccination with support from UNICEF, WHO, BMGF and Gavi. The Universal Immunisation Programme of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare targets to reduce the severity and death of preventable diseases. Since a vaccine for pneumonia is the need of the hour, the UIP provides vaccines free of cost to children.
Types And Schedule Of Pneumonia Vaccines For Children:
There are two types of pneumonia vaccines namely, Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines and Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccines. Currently, only two vaccines are available for children, out of which PCV13 is suitable for one and a half-month-old babies.
The pneumonia vaccine efficacy is said to be high for children under the age of 2 years when they receive PCV13 or pneumococcal conjugate vaccine 13. Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is indicated in one and a half-month-old babies.
Infants and young children require four doses of this vaccine at the second, fourth, sixth and twelfth months of age. Ensure that your child receives their first dose of pneumonia vaccine before they turn 1. PCV13 is usually suggested at 24-59 months if your child has not received all the scheduled amounts.
Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccines are indicated only for older children and adults. PPSV23 is suitable for children older than two years of age with certain medical conditions, and they do not work much for children below two years of age. It protects against 23 types of bacteria that cause pneumonia. Usually, a person requires only one dose of PPSV23. However, if you or your child come under a high-risk group due to medical conditions, your physician might suggest a second dose of PPSV23 and a single dose of PCV13.
Who Should Avoid Receiving The Pneumonia Vaccine?
Vaccines for pneumonia are available for all, regardless of age and medical conditions. However, it would be best to consider certain factors that might affect your possibility of receiving your dose of vaccine. In most cases, you may only need to postpone receiving the vaccine for the time being.
- Allergic Reactions To Vaccines: This depends on what and how severe the reaction is. If it is just a mild rash, your physician may consider it safe to inject the vaccine. Instead, if you or your child have experienced severe or anaphylactic reactions to the pneumonia vaccine or any vaccine for that matter, it may be unsafe to receive the vaccination.
- Fever At The Vaccination Appointment: Tell your physician if you or your child are having high temperatures during the scheduled time for vaccination. Your physician might help postpone your dosing date until you or your child recover.
- Pregnancy And Breastfeeding: Pneumonia vaccine is safe to receive during pregnancy and breastfeeding. However, it is better to wait until you have delivered your baby unless your physician feels that the benefits outweigh the risks for you and your child.