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Kenya: proving impact of vaccines against pneumonia

This week, the Wellcome Trust featured a video from the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Centre and Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, on the impact of the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV-10) in Kilifi, Kenya. Here, they discuss the project and explain why the vaccine matters.

Around the world, pneumonia is the leading cause of death in children under five, accounting for approximately 15% of deaths. In 2000, it was estimated that more than 16,000 Kenyans, mostly children, died from pneumococcal infections.

In January 2011, following recommendations by the World Health Organisation and Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, Kenya’s health ministry added PCV-10 to the country’s infant vaccine regime. Described as a ‘10-valent’ vaccine, it targets the 10 strains of pneumococcal bacteria that cause the serious, and often fatal, invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD). Newborns now receive PCV-10 in three doses, at six, 10 and 14 weeks.

As pneumococcal bacteria are carried in the nose of both healthy and sick people, the team looked at how prevalent the bacteria are in the population as an indicator of its carriage. Within six months of the vaccine being introduced, they saw a two-thirds reduction in the prevalence of strains targeted by the vaccine across the whole population.

The best indicator of the vaccine’s impact in the population comes from looking at invasive pneumococcal disease, a serious disease where the bacteria spread from the lungs to the blood. Before the introduction of PCV-10, the hospital in Kilifi saw roughly 40-50 cases of IPD a year. Since the vaccine, doctors have seen only one case in two years, and are pleased to say they believe they are at a point where the disease is under control.

Policy makers, experts and other stakeholders in Kenya and the East African Region gathered in Nairobi this week to hear the latest results from the on-going Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine Impact Study (PCVIS) and to discuss the policy issues arising.

For more information on the PCV-10 vaccine impact study please visit the KEMRI website.

This blog was originally posted on the Wellcome Trust’s site, here.

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