Six-in-one jab for tots

Tebogo Monama

Tebogo Monama

An innovative new combination vaccine, which targets six childhood diseases with just one jab, has been introduced in South Africa.

Also known as the six-in-one vaccine, it is aimed at fighting dangerous childhood diseases.

It protects babies against whooping cough, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B and haemophilus influenza type B, which are all life-threatening ailments.

The research-based pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), launched the vaccine for babies in Sandton on Tuesday.

The company said that studies have shown that combination vaccines provide at least equal protection and favourable safety levels to separately administered vaccines.

Though new to South Africa, the vaccine was introduced in European countries more than 10 years ago.

Sue King, the head of vaccines at GSK, who spoke at the launch in Johannesburg this week, said: "The vaccine is effective because it ensures less anxiety and pain in the children and their parents.

"The vaccine helps reduce those multiple tearful injections to just one and saves parents a great deal of heartache," she said.

With the new vaccine, the baby receives a dose of hepatitis B vaccine at birth.

From then on, the baby will receive a single shot of the vaccine at 6, 10 and 14 weeks.

But the vaccine is only available at private clinics and hospitals at a cost of R250 excluding VAT.

GSK said immunisation saved three million lives a year and was credited as being the most important public health intervention next to safe drinking water.