73 countries, five diseases, one amazing vaccine

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How the 5-in-1 pentavalent vaccine is now protecting children in all of the world's poorest countries

GAVI/Riccardo Gangale

The five-in-one vaccine – known as pentavalent – protects against 5 diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B and a major cause of meningitis and pneumonia, haemophilus influenzae type B. It was the first vaccine supported by GAVI for use in the world’s 73 poorest countries. In 14 years, the vaccine has made it to every one of these countries, but its real work is still just beginning.

GAVI/Mike Pflanz

South Sudan: Two days after the pentavalent vaccine was introduced in her country in July 2014, Jackline Juan cradles her daughter Keji Francis after the baby's first dose. As the 73rd and last GAVI eligible country to introduce the vaccine, South Sudan marked an important milestone in the mission to protect children from these preventable illnesses. 

GAVI/Evelyn Hockstein

Kenya: Back in 2001, one of South Sudan’s East African neighbours - Kenya - was the first country to introduce the pentavalent vaccine with GAVI support. 13 years later the country is still providing the vaccine for its children, as well as other, newer vaccines like those protecting against major causes of pneumonia and severe diarrhoea. 

GAVI/Adrian Brooks

Nigeria: Africa’s most populous country launched the vaccine in 2012, completing its national introduction ahead of schedule in December 2013. This has involved on-going work with partners including GAVI to improve the cold chain, making sure vaccines are kept cool and safe while on their way to children across the country. 

GAVI/ Atul Loke

Counting up & down: 2013 was a good year for the five-in-one vaccine. By the end of December 1.4 billion doses of GAVI supported pentavalent had been shipped since 2001, with 160 million in 2013 alone. The cost of immunising millions of children was also significantly reduced, as an Indian manufacturer agreed a deal to supply the vaccine for 30% less than the previous lowest price.  

GAVI/Romana Manpreet

India: More doses (and determination) than ever will be required in the future to help vaccinate India’s vast population. After the introduction of the five-in-one pentavalent vaccine in eight states from 2011 to 2013, GAVI is working to help deliver the vaccine to the remaining 27 states in 2014 and 2015, targeting a birth cohort of 27 million children.  

GAVI/Chris Stowers

Indonesia: The number of people is not the only challenge. Indonesia has a complex geography – vaccines must travel across more than 900 inhabited islands, 3 time zones and 34 provinces to reach every child. Despite this, after launching in summer 2013, the Indonesian government is aiming to have introduced the five-in-one vaccine nationally in two years instead of the usual four.  

GAVI/ Olivier Asselin

This vaccine’s journey does not end here, however. Despite introductions in all GAVI-supported countries, many children still go without the five-in-one vaccine – only 53% of them were covered by pentavalent in 2013. Our work has to continue if we are to get this life-saving intervention, and others, to all children around the world. 

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