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In the ongoing battle against childhood pneumonia, a recent study sheds light on a potential game-changer: vaccination following the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) schedule. Conducted in a developing country, this research underscores the critical role of timely immunisation in reducing mortality rates among children under five hospitalised for pneumonia and severe pneumonia. 

Led by researchers at the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b), the study focused on children aged 4 to 59 months admitted to Dhaka Hospital between August 2013 and December 2017. By analysing electronic medical records, the team identified a cohort of 4,625 children with pneumonia and severe pneumonia.

Of particular interest was the impact of adherence to the EPI schedule, which includes vaccinations against key pathogens. The study revealed that among the children with documented immunisation records, 84.3% were fully immunised according to the EPI schedule by four months of age. These children, who received vaccinations such as Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), Diphtheria-Pertussis-Tetanus-Haemophilus influenzae type B-Hepatitis B (DPT-Hib-Hep B), oral polio vaccine (OPV), inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), and pneumococcal conjugate vaccine-10 (PCV-10), exhibited significantly lower mortality rates compared to their unimmunised counterparts. 

The findings revealed a stark contrast in outcomes between the immunised and unimmunised groups. Immunised children not only had a lower risk of mortality during hospitalisation but also experienced fewer instances of severe pneumonia, anemia, and diarrhea. This observation underscores the profound impact of immunisation in mitigating the severity of pneumonia-related illnesses. 

Furthermore, the introduction of PCV-10 in 2015 marked a significant milestone, offering additional protection against pneumococcal infections. Sub-analysis during this period highlighted a notable reduction in mortality rates among children who received the PCV-10 vaccine compared to those who did not. 

While acknowledging the study’s limitations, including its retrospective nature and incomplete immunisation data, the researchers emphasise the urgent need to bolster national immuniSation programs. Achieving full immunisation coverage in line with the EPI schedule is paramount, particularly in resource-constrained settings where access to healthcare may be limited. 

The study’s findings underscore the pivotal role of vaccination in reducing pneumonia-related mortality among children under five. By prioritising immunisation efforts and ensuring adherence to vaccination schedules, policymakers and healthcare providers can make significant strides in safeguarding the health and well-being of children in developing countries. 

The study’s findings illuminate the pivotal role of vaccination following the EPI schedule in the global effort to combat childhood pneumonia. By prioritising immunisation efforts and ensuring adherence to vaccination schedules, policymakers and healthcare providers can make significant strides in safeguarding the health and well-being of children, especially in resource-constrained settings. 

By harnessing the power of immunisation, we can not only reduce pneumonia-related mortality rates but also alleviate the burden of severe pneumonia, anemia, and diarrhea among vulnerable populations. As we strive to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of ending preventable deaths in children under five by 2030, investing in comprehensive immunisation strategies remains paramount. Together, through concerted efforts and collective commitment, we can create a world where every child has the opportunity to thrive, free from the threat of preventable diseases like pneumonia. 

Reference:
Shahid ASMSB, Rahman AE, Shahunja KM, Afroze F, Sarmin M, Nuzhat S, et al. Vaccination following the expanded programme on immunization schedule could help to reduce deaths in children under five hospitalized for pneumonia and severe pneumonia in a developing country. Front Pediatr [Internet]. 2023;11. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fped.2023.1054335

  • More Details

  • Type: Research Paper
  • Theme: Extended Programme for Immunisation (EPI)
  • Publisher:
  • Author:
  • Language: English
  • Country: Bangladesh
  • Location: Bangladesh
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