KOZHIKODE: Experts in the field of modern medicine have demanded the consideration of including booster vaccination for diphtheria under the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP). This is in the wake of diphtheria reported among elder people who had taken the vaccination, but have lost immunity over the years. “As of now, resistance against diphtheria is being given through pentavalent vaccine at the age of six weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks. Again the dosage is being given through the DPT booster vaccine at the age of 1.5 years and five years. The immunity of the toxoid vaccines will last only for five to seven years. That means the vaccinated person is vulnerable to the disease after 10 years of age if they come in touch with the contact,” opines Dr Purushothaman K.K., HoD of pediatrics, Government Medical College, Thrissur.
He suggests converting the present TT vaccine which is being given at the age of 10 and 16, to Td vaccine to include diphtheria. “Kerala has 25-27 lakh children in the age group of 10-15. An extra Rs 3 crore should be spent to include diphtheria booster,” he opined. Developed countries had a scientific system of administering booster vaccines to citizens once in every 10 years. There were less than 10 diphtheria cases since many years in the state till 2015. But after the breakout in Malappuram in 2015, which claimed two lives, 600-plus diphtheria cases were reported of which 100 are positive. The cases include elder persons above 30 and 40 years of age which proved the break of age-barrier.
“Booster vaccine is advisable as diphtheria is reported among elders. The state advisory board should discuss this and forward to national level to include it in UIP,” said National Health Mission (NHM) state programme manager Dr Usha Kumari S. Kannur district RCH (Reproductive and child health) officer Dr P.M Jyothi also agrees that booster vaccine should be introduced to expand the immunity. A 14-year old girl was died in Peravoor of Kannur on Tuesday due to diphtheria. Though her parents claim that they had taken all vaccines, the health records show only up to the age of one.