IVAC Co-Hosts Workshop to Accelerate Introduction of Lifesaving Vaccines for Children 

IVAC team members traveled to N’Djamena, Chad, earlier this month for a workshop focused on accelerating the introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) and rotavirus vaccine in four high-burden African countries: Chad, Guinea, Somalia, and South Sudan. Hosted in collaboration with the Mérieux Foundation, Every Breath Counts, Save the Children, Chad’s Ministry of Health, and the Malaria Consortium, the workshop brought together national, regional, and international stakeholders to address challenges and explore solutions to introduction and scale-up of PCV and rotavirus vaccine. Two of IVAC’s projects – Global Advocacy for PCV (GAP) and Choice Optimization for Immunization: Country Exercises in Sustainability (CHOICES) – led sessions during the workshop. 

Dr. Anita Shet, Director of Child Health at IVAC and Principal Investigator of the GAP project, presented research on the estimated impact of vaccine introductions. Using the Lives Saved Tool (LiST), a mathematic modeling tool developed by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the team estimated that with introduction and scale-up of these vaccines in these four countries from 2024 onwards, 67,500 deaths among under-five children could be prevented and 2.6 million cases of childhood pneumonia, meningitis, and diarrhea could be averted cumulatively from 2024 to 2030. Her presentation highlighted the impact of substantially scaling up coverage and incorporating a multi-year catch-up vaccination strategy for PCV, beginning at the time of new vaccine introduction, which can further save several hundreds of lives. This work serves as a call to action, advocating for the incorporation of these life-saving vaccines into the national immunization schedules of these countries. Advocacy from GAP, Every Breath Counts, and other key partners has helped to accelerate decisions about PCV and rotavirus vaccine in these four countries, some of the only Gavi-eligible countries yet to include these vaccines in their national immunization program.  

CHOICES, an initiative led by IVAC in partnership with the JSI Research & Training Institute and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has provided technical assistance to these countries to guide and support decision-making, applications for Gavi support, and implementation planning and preparedness. CHOICES works with countries and core partners at WHO, Gavi, and UNICEF to navigate new vaccine prioritization and introduction as well as switches to existing vaccine products, presentations, and schedules. Molly Sauer, CHOICES project director, presented at the workshop on key implementation considerations and tradeoffs. She also participated alongside colleagues from WHO, UNICEF, and Gavi in a panel facilitated by Dr. Andre Tonda (JSI) to discuss guidance, evidence, and support for introduction in the four countries. Dr. Adicatou-Laï Adeothy, CHOICES technical advisor for Chad, also provided key insights on learnings, challenges, and promising practices from three Gavi-eligible countries who have previously introduced PCV and rotavirus vaccines concurrently. Discussions from this workshop will inform work to accelerate the introduction of PCV and rotavirus vaccines in these countries and protect millions of children from these preventable diseases.