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The health department has introduced two new vaccines which could prevent 2.5 million child deaths a year.
The vaccines were introduced in Pretoria on Thursday. The two vaccines, rotavirus and pentavalent, will reduce the number of child mortalities by 2.5 million per year," said Dr Ntombenhle Ngcobo, a specialist on the department's expanded programme on immunisation.
She said immunisation with the rotavirus vaccine would prevent severe forms of diarrhoea and the pentavalent vaccine would protect against diphtheria, tetanus, haemophilus, influenza and polio.
The pentavalent vaccine would replace the tetravalent vaccine.
The vaccines would be freely available at public health facilities from August.
Another vaccine to prevent child deaths was introduced in April. The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine protects against pneumococcal diseases such as pneumonia and meningitis.
Pneumonia affects the chest and the ability to give oxygen to the body, while meningitis affects the brain and the spinal cord.
Shabir Madhi, a professor of vaccinology at Wits University, said children under the age of five were quite likely to die from pneumococcal disease.
"Seven children die of pneumonia every five minutes in Africa," he said Pneumococcal diseases are caused by a bacteria called pneumococcal.
Ngcobo suggested children should be vaccinated with the pentavalent vaccine four times.
"Children are to be vaccinated with pentavalent vaccine at six, 10, 14 and 18 months," said Ngcobo.
She said it would be safe to give children who had already received some doses of tetravalent, a dose of the pentavalent.
"The two are interchangeable," she said. She said immunisation has the potential to prevent more than three million child deaths a year.