Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines have been introduced in 40% of WHO member states
Global progress has been made since the introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCVs) 13 years ago, according to a report published in the April 26 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
By December 2012, 44% of the World Health Organization (WHO) member states had introduced PCV into their national immunization programs, compared to 1% in 2000. This represents coverage for approximately one-third of the children in WHO member states.
PCV uptake can be attributed to the WHO recommendation to include the vaccine in all routine immunization programs in 2006, especially for countries with a high disease burden. Also, funding from the GAVI Alliance has helped 23 WHO member states with PCV introduction. The development of new PCV formulations with more serotype coverage has helped, especially in lower- and middle-income countries. In 2000, the first PCV formulation was able to protect against seven of the most common pneumococcal serotypes.
PCVs are considered to be safe and effective for prevention of pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis due to Streptococcus pneumoniae in children younger than 5 years. Approximately 14.5 million serious cases of S. pneumonia occur worldwide, with 500,000 deaths annually, the MMWR stated.
“Important gaps in PCV introduction remain, notably in the WHO South-East Asia Region and in countries with large birth cohorts,” according to an editorial note in the MMWR. “Low- and middle-income countries lagged behind high-income countries, with all low-income introductions attributed to GAVI Alliance support.”
“In spite of these challenges, the rate at which PCV has been introduced into childhood immunization programs worldwide has been faster than that of other new vaccines in the past,” the editorial stated.