New vaccine to protect children from five killer diseases

Bangladesh for the first time introduces a new combination vaccine that will protect its children against five killer diseases in one injection, including the deadly bacterium Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). Hib causes some severe forms of pneumonia and meningitis. It is estimated to cause millions of serious illnesses and 400,000 deaths globally, the majority of them among children under five. Even with treatment, thousands of children die of Hib disease every year.

The new combination or 5-in-1 vaccine will protect children against Hib and four other deadly diseases — diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and hepatitis B.

The vaccine will be provided under the routine immunization program to nearly four million children born in the country every year. As it records high routine immunisation coverage, it is estimated that Hib vaccine can save about 20,000 children’s lives annually.

Director of Hib Initiative at Johns Hopkins University Dr Rana Hajjeh said, “Hib vaccine is a safe, effective and highly cost-effective intervention used for more than 18 years in developed and many developing countries. Where used routinely, it has virtually eliminated Hib disease.”

Instead of three different injections (for DPT, Hepatitis B and Hib), children will only need one injection at three different times during their first year of life — at the age of six weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks.

The introduction of the vaccine in Bangladesh is carried out with the financial and technical support from the GAVI Alliance and its key partners, including Unicef, WHO and the Hib Initiative.