CHILDREN below four months started receiving the new pneumoccocal vaccine against pneumonia and meningitis last Friday. The vaccine, launched last month, is administered in children at six, 10 and 14 weeks.
Ministry of Health and Child Welfare Expanded Programme on Immunisation manager Mrs Mary Kamupota said with effect from Friday, children will be immunised against BCG at birth as before.
But other vaccines will be administered at six, 10 and 14 weeks instead of the previous three, four and five months.
These will be given together with the new pneumoccocal vaccine.
"So far so good," said Mrs Kamupota. "We have visited several clinics and everything is going according to plan."
Children were scheduled to have started receiving the vaccines last month, but the process was delayed due to logistical problems.
She said the introduction of the vaccine resulted in a change of the immunisation schedule and the child health card.
According to the new child health card, the vaccination schedule now ends with the 18 months booster after the five-year booster was dropped.
The first dose of Vitamin A will be given at six months and thereafter after every six months until the child is five years old.
Government says it is planning to introduce another vaccine in 2013 to fight against diarrhoeal diseases in children. According to the World Health Organisation, both diarrhoea and pneumonia represent a major health problem in developing countries and Zimbabwe is no exception.
The Government is probing the cause of side effects that developed in a number of children who were immunised during a week-long campaign last month. About two million children countrywide between the ages of zero and 59 months received measles, polio and Vitamin A supplementation between June 18 and 27 June. Senior health officials maintain that vaccination remains the key intervention in preventing childhood illnesses, disability and deaths.