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Vaccine targets pneumonia for under-fives

Posted: Wednesday, December 13, 2023. 8:07 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: As part of the cocktail of immunizations most babies take in their first few years of life (for whooping cough, measles, mumps, rubella, and so on), a new vaccine has been added by the Ministry of Health and Wellness: the pediatric pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), which fights pneumonia.

According to the Ministry, among six thousand cases of pneumonia diagnosed from 2018 to 2022, the most affected were children below five years and elderly citizens over 60 years old.

The PCV vaccine protects against infection by the pneumococcus bacteria, one of the most common causes of pneumonia in children. It also protects against other infections caused by pneumococcus, such as meningitis and bacteremia.

The Paediatric PCV primary vaccination schedule is three doses administered at two, four, and six months. For children 12 months to 59 months old, two doses are recommended. The interval between doses is two months. The PCV vaccine will be available at health facilities in urban and rural communities during mobile clinics and other outreach vaccination sessions.

Other interventions to prevent, protect, and treat children from pneumonia. include exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, proper sanitation, and frequent hand washing with soap.

Belize joins Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Curaçao, The Bahamas, Aruba, Anguilla, Jamaica, Montserrat, Bermuda, Turks and Caicos, Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia among countries in the region that have introduced PCV into the National Immunization Program as 164 members of the World Health Organization have already done.

For further information on the vaccine, kindly contact the Maternal and Child Health Unit in the Ministry at 828-4482 or visit the district’s public health nurses.

 

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