Mandi: Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare JP Nadda on Saturday launched the vaccine for pneumonia and meningitis.
He launched the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine under the Universal Immunisation Programme that protects a child against severe forms of pneumococcal disease.
Nadda introduced the vaccine at a function in Mandi, a town in Himachal Pradesh and said, "No child should die in the country from vaccine preventable diseases is the goal and commitment of our government."
He added, "We stand committed to reducing child deaths and providing a healthier future to our children."
The Union Health Minister termed this as a major step in India's immunisation programme and said that the government is committed to reducing morbidity and mortality in children.
Strengthening routine immunisation is an essential investment in India's children and will ensure a healthy future of the country, he said.
The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine protects children against severe forms of pneumococcal disease such as pneumonia and meningitis.
Currently, the vaccine is being rolled out to approximately 21 lakh children in Himachal Pradesh and parts of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in the first phase, an official statement said.
This will be followed by introduction in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan next year and eventually be expanded throughout the country in a phased manner.
Nadda said the government has taken notable steps in the direction of total immunisation.
Under Mission Indradhanush more than 2.6 crore beneficiaries have been immunised. From 1 per cent annual increase in coverage of full immunisation, Mission Indradhanush has resulted in a 6.7 per cent annual expansion in the immunisation cover.
He said, "The immunisation programme started with providing protection against six vaccine preventable diseases, it will now offer protection to our children from 12 diseases."
He said all these vaccines were available in the private sector for many years, not only in India but also across the world.
Nadda added, "While these vaccines in the private sector were accessible to only those who could afford them, by making them available under the UIP (Universal Immunisation Programme), the government is ensuring equitable access to those who need them the most."
State Health Minister Kaul Singh Thakur said the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine would support the efforts of the state government in further bringing down child mortality.
(With IANS inputs)