LAHORE: In the aftermath of 11 deaths due to Diphtheria, Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department has sought Rs170 million for procurement of booster doses, sources told The Nation on Wednesday.

Secretary P&SHD Ali Jan Khan has forwarded a summary to the Punjab Chief Minister, requesting allocation of Rs170 million for procurement of booster doses of enhanced potency for administering to children above four years of age.

After taking lives of 27 children in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and adjoining Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, deadly Diphtheria visited Punjab in the second half of August and caused nine deaths in Kasur and one each in Multan and Mandi Bahauddin. Prior to outbreak of Diphtheria in the province, Punjab provided 150 vials of Anti Diphtheria Serum (ADS) to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for treatment of patients. The P&SHD also issued Diphtheria alert for the province with special instructions to districts bordering KPK. But so far all the cases have been reported from central and southern Punjab.

“Children up to four years are getting Penta vaccine. This vaccine is a shield against five diseases including Diphtheria. In areas from where Diphtheria is reported, children are getting Penta vaccine in addition to doses in routine immunization. This vaccine is effective for children up to four years of age”, said an official at Directorate General Health Services Punjab.

“As Penta vaccine is not effective for children above four years, the department has sought funds for procurement of booster doses with enhanced potency”, he said.

“Diphtheria has taken lives of 6-8 years old children. This booster dose will be given to children of this age group to immune them against Diphtheria”, he said, adding, the process of procuring the said vaccine would be started soon after provision of necessary funds from the provincial kitty.

“Movement of people to and from KPK caused circulation of bacterial infection. The department has so far administered penta vaccine to 32000 children in targeted areas. As part of cases repose, 202 children in Kasur have been given ADS. Now the situation is under control”, said spokesman of Health Department.