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The Pentavalent Vaccine

Pentavalent is a vaccine that is being used to protect against five diseases: tetanus, hepatitis B, Pertussis, haemophilus influenza type b and diptheria. The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI) introduced the vaccine in 2001 in Kenya, and in July of 2014 South Sudan became the 73rd country to be introduced to the vaccine through the GAVI Alliance.

In order for the vaccine to be effective, it needs to be administered over a three-dose schedule. Increasing the availability of the pentavalent vaccine is an attempt to reduce the mortality rate of children under the age of five by two-thirds for the coming year (2015), which is goal number four on the Millennium Development Goals list.

GAVI has also partnered with organizations such as World Bank, WHO and UNICEF, as well as other donor countries, in order to increase the availability of the pentavalent vaccine in poor countries where child mortality is an extremely pressing concern.

Most recently, the Minister of Health in India, Harsh Vardhan, stated that the pentavalent vaccine would be introduced in eight of India’s states: Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Karnataka, Puducherry, Kerala, Goa, Jammu and Kashmir and Haryana. The plan is for the vaccine to be distributed among twelve additional states in the near future.

The success rate of disease prevention once the pentavalent vaccine has been administered is extremely high; the next part of the plan regarding the vaccine is to make sure that coverage is provided in remote areas and in regions facing deep levels of poverty. GAVI plans to begin an initiative, to be implemented from 2016 to 2020, to increase the amount of coverage for the pentavalent vaccine worldwide.

The CEO of the GAVI Alliance, Dr. Seth Berkley, stated on the GAVI website that his “next challenge is to support some of the world’s largest countries to expand and strengthen their programmes to ensure they are reaching every child.”

Jordyn Horowitz

Sources: GAVI Alliance, UNICEF, Business Standard
Photo: GAVI Alliance