Gavi supports JE catch-up campaigns and co-finances the vaccine for routine immunisation
Students in Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR), after receiving their first dose of Japanese encephalitis (JE) vaccine. In 2015, Lao PDR became the first country to use support from Gavi to protect its children from JE. Credit: Bart Verweij
In 2014, Gavi invited countries to apply for support to introduce the Japanese encephalitis (JE) vaccine. The first Gavi-funded JE vaccine campaigns started in Lao People’s Democratic Republic in 2015, with Nepal and Cambodia scheduled for 2016.
In line with WHO recommendations, Gavi provides support for JE catch-up campaigns and co-finances the vaccine for use in routine immunisation programmes. The catch-up campaigns are intended to pave the way for countries to introduce the vaccine into the routine system.
The campaigns target children aged 9 months to 14 years and ensure sustainability by embedding JE vaccine into routine immunisation programmes. Where the vaccine is introduced into the routine system, children are vaccinated at 9 months.
In 2011, the Gavi Board recommended opening a window for country applications for Gavi support, pending the prequalification of an appropriate JE vaccine.
In October 2013, WHO added a JE vaccine, known as SA 14-14-2 and developed by China’s Chengdu Institute of Biological Products, to its list of prequalified vaccines – opening the door for United Nations agencies to procure the vaccine. It is the first Chinese-produced vaccine to be prequalified by WHO, and the first prequalified JE vaccine for paediatric use.
Recognising JE’s burden of disease, PATH has collaborated with the Chengdu Institute, WHO and ministries of health on clinic trials to demonstrate that the vaccine, made from an active but weakened virus, is both safe and effective. It also only requires one dose.
PATH also negotiated with the manufacturer to ensure a special public-sector price affordable for low-income and some middle-income countries at risk of JE transmission, such as the Philippines.
WHO recommends immunisation in all regions where the disease is a recognised public health problem. Additional prequalified vaccines appropriate for paediatric use are expected to be prequalified in the near future, adding to the choices available for countries.