T.N. facing issues in the supply of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccines

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They are in short supply for at least two to three months. According to a few doctors, district vaccine stores in a couple of districts have received a supply of the vaccines; official says the State’s annual requirement is 30,53,000 doses

They are in short supply for at least two to three months. According to a few doctors, district vaccine stores in a couple of districts have received a supply of the vaccines; official says the State’s annual requirement is 30,53,000 doses

A number of government health facilities in Tamil Nadu have been running short of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCVs) in the last two to three months.

The State had rolled out PCV under the universal immunisation programme in July 2021 to protect children from pneumonia.

Enquiries with a number of health facilities in various parts of the State revealed that the vaccines were in short supply for at least two to three months. Health Department staff, including doctors and nurses, in parts of Chennai, Chengalpattu, Thanjavur, Tiruchi, Cuddalore and Nagapattinam confirmed the shortage.

A health official said there were issues in the supply, but the stock had not turned nil. As per the National Immunisation Schedule, PCV is administered at six weeks and 14 weeks, and at nine months of age.

The cost of the vaccines in the private sector ranges from ₹2,500 to ₹4,000, a government doctor said.

The government doctor, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the vaccine was unavailable for nearly three months, including at certain centres in Chennai.“We have been telling parents that the vaccines are not available. Those who cannot afford to get the vaccine in the private sector have to check next month when they come for the next vaccine schedule,” he said. Another doctor working in Tiruchi said the vaccine was in short supply at certain government hospitals and primary health centres, while a doctor in a neighbouring district said there was a shortage, with only a few vials issued to primary health centres.

A few doctors said the district vaccine stores in a couple of districts have received a supply of the vaccines. “However, the volume is low. One vial is being given to a health sub-centre. The next day of vaccination is Wednesday, and we hope whatever supply is available will reach the centres by then,” a doctor said. A staff in Chengalpattu said no supply was received till Friday.

In a letter to the Union Health Ministry on August 25, the Director of Public Health (DPH) and Preventive Medicine said the State’s annual requirement was 30,53,000 doses. But the Government of India had till then supplied 6,00,000 doses, and the remaining 24,53,300 doses were yet to be supplied. The stock position as on August 24 was 57,768 doses, including all Cold Chain Points and district vaccine stores. Nearly seven health unit districts had a stock of below 100 doses.

The State’s three-month requirement was 7,63,000 doses. He requested 8,00,000 doses as a three-month stock at an early date so as to continue the administration of PCV without interruption in the State. Director of Public Health T. S. Selvavinayagam said, “This is a free supply from the Government of India. We received around eight lakh doses, and are waiting for further supply. The stocks from the Government of India are expected.”

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