Pentacel, a combination vaccine for five childhood diseases that would reduce the number of shots given to infants, received the approval of a US Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Thursday.
The vaccine, which protects against diphtheria, tetanus, polio, whooping cough and invasive Hib disease, is made by Sanofi-Aventis SA.
The 13 to 2 vote in favour of the vaccine was based on studies that showed that four doses of Pentacel protected children from these diseases. Currently, US health officials recommend 23 separate shots for infants. Pentacel would reduce that to 16 shots - about two fewer at every checkup, Bloomberg News reported.
The advisory committee said that Pentacel appeared to work at least as well as individual vaccines designed to protect against the five diseases. They also said that reducing the number of shots may help improve immunisation rates.
It's expected that the FDA will decide by March 9 whether to act on the advisory committees' recommendation and approve Pentacel, Bloomberg reported. While the FDA isn't required to follow its committees' advice, it usually does so.
Currently, the only five-component childhood vaccine available in the US is Pediarix, made by GlaxoSmithKline. – (HealthDayNews)