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Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Pneumococcal Vaccine Introduction

Historically, 15-20 years have passed before new vaccines reached children in developing countries. The Accelerated Vaccine Introduction (AVI) Initiative is working with countries, donors, academia, international organizations, and industry to develop effective public-private partnerships in order to accelerate the introduction of pneumococcal vaccines. Millions of lives could be saved through earlier and faster access to pneumococcal vaccines.

In 2009, Rwanda became the first GAVI-eligible country to introduce the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine. As of 2010, the rollout of pneumococcal vaccines is underway in 17 developing countries: Benin, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, The Gambia, Guyana, Honduras, Kenya, Mali, Malawi, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Yemen, Burundi, Ethiopia and Ghana.

Countries Continue to Express Interest in Introducing Pneumococcal Vaccines

In late March, 2007, GAVI issued a brief letter to all 72 GAVI eligible countries asking if they would be interested in introducing the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, beginning with the 7-valent vaccine, between 2008 and 2010. Countries were presented with a brief description of the vaccine’s characteristics (including cold storage requirements), expected health impacts, and the co-financing requirements, and were given just over 6 weeks to formulate their reply and return a letter to GAVI.

The response was tremendous. By May 25th, 31 of the 72 GAVI eligible countries had indicated an interest in introducing pneumococcal vaccines by 2010. Responses came from countries that accounted for >33% of all the childhood pneumococcal deaths worldwide (see Figure below). The most responses came from Africa, the region of the world with the highest incidence of pneumococcal disease. At least eight countries also expressed interest in rotavirus vaccine introduction.

Since the spring of 2011, almost 70% of GAVI eligible countries have sought support for introducing pneumococcal vaccines for their children.
Greater awareness about the disease and vaccine, support for surveillance, and availability of GAVI funding have all contributed to the acceleration of vaccine introduction and WHO, UNICEF, and others have provided crucial support to countries in developing vaccine plans, financing strategies, and cold chain and systems capacity required for successful applications.

Steps In Accelerating Vaccine Introduction

  • Step 1: Build a credible demand forecast to establish terms for affordable, sustainable supply and financing.
  • Step 2: Donors and industry commit to binding agreements to finance and supply vaccines for developing countries.
  • Step 3: Support evidence-based demand for vaccine introduction in developing countries.