NEWLY born babies are now expected to begin vaccinations at six weeks instead of the previous three months after the initial vaccine given at birth.
This follows introduction of the new child health card and the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in Zimbabwe recently.
According to the new child health card, the schedule is now starting with BCG at birth as before, but other antigens will now be administered at six, 10 and 14 weeks instead of three, four and five months.
The vaccination schedule now ends with the 18 months booster.
The five year booster has been dropped.
A new vaccine called pneumococcal conjugate (PCV13) has also been introduced in addition to the already existing vaccines.
This new vaccine prevents pneumonia and meningitis.
It will be administered at six, 10 and 14 weeks.
The first dose of vitamin A will be given at six months of age and thereafter every six months until the child is five years old.
The salt and sugar solution has also been changed from 750 mls to 1 litre and the other ingredients remain the same.
Unlike the old card, there are two charts now, one of height for age and the other of weight for age.
One card is blue for boys and another is pink for girls.
The cards will have different growth curves for boys and girls because boys and girls develop at different paces.
The old card was yellow in colour and both boys and girls used one type of baby card.
The new child health cards are now in use and are given to newly born babies while children with the old cards will continue using their old cards.
Officially launching the new card in Harare last week, World Health Organisation country representative Dr Custodia Mandlhate said: “Please use the new children’s card appropriately to record the right information.
“Advise the parents and caregivers what to do as a follow up of the integrated interventions.”
She said the advantage of using the revised card is that it will ensure good records of all vital preventative interventions like exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, calendar of immunisations and Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission.