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Home: News and Updates Govt Turns up Heat on Hepatitis B, All Newborns to get Vaccinated

Govt Turns up Heat on Hepatitis B, All Newborns to get Vaccinated

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Times of India
01 February 2011
By Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi, India

All children born in India will now get a vaccine shot against Hepatitis B — the cause of 80% of all liver cancer and about 1% of all adult deaths.

The health ministry has finally given the go–ahead to introduce the shot in the country’s national immunisation programme (NIP). Annually, India records 26 million births. At present, these children are given diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT) vaccine shots along with BCG, measles and oral polio vaccine under NIP annually.

The ministry is in the process of procuring 100 million doses of Hepatitis B vaccine. By April, the programme will be rolled out nationally.

"We have started procurement of the vaccine. Health workers in all states are being trained to administer the shots. The decision to introduce it under the NIP was taken in November," a ministry official told TOI.

Speaking to TOI from the US, Bill Gates, too, welcomed the move. "Though India should soon start using a pentavalent vaccine that would include HIB, a standalone vaccine to protect children against Hep B is a move forward. India should soon introduce the rotavirus and pneumoccocal vaccine which will save hundreds of children," Gates told TOI.

Till now, Hepatitis B vaccination was being done only in 10 high performing states like TN, Kerala, Karnataka, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and West Bengal.

Govt Turns up Heat on Hepatitis B, All Newborns to get Vaccinated
A child will get a birth shot and then subsequent Hepatitis B shots at six, 10 and 14 weeks, the health ministry official said. India has the second largest pool of carriers in the world at 43 million, out of which 10% are highly infectious. Experts say Hepatitis B is more lethal than HIV because it can spread from even one drop of infected blood.

Gates sees zero transmission of polio virus in 2 yrs
New Delhi: India could see zero transmission of the crippling polio virus in the next two years, according to business magnate–turned–philanthropist Bill Gates. Eradication of polio globally could save the world up to $50 billion over the next 25 years, he said.

Calling India’s achievement in reducing cases of polio in 2010 as "good progress", Gates said "the combination of the new bivalent vaccine and a committed polio campaign saw a dramatic reduction in cases, giving hope that we are very close to stopping the virus transmission." He added: "After reducing transmission to zero, we will have to monitor for two years. Some children will require more than three doses of the vaccine."

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