As part of a nationwide project and a worldwide child immunization effort, Kenya started distributing a pneumococcal vaccine to the public Feb. 14. The vaccine, made by GlaxoSmithKline, will be given to children at six, 10 and 14 weeks of age and has an 80 to 85 percent efficacy rate.
The vaccine immunizes children against pneumococcal disease, which kills more than 800,000 patients younger than five years of age every year, according to the World Health Organization. Vaccinations will be free at public health centers and will also be distributed to the private sector.
Kenya is the first African country to roll out this pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, which has been specially tailored to meet the needs of children in developing nations. Nicaragua, Guyana, Yemen and Sierra Leone have rolled out Pfizer's Prevenar 13 vaccine with support from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), UNICEF, the WHO and other key players in global health.
GAVI has committed to support the introduction of pneumococcal vaccines in 19 developing countries within a year and, if it gets sufficient funding from its donors, plans to roll them out to more than 40 countries by 2015, the organization says in a statement.
Editor's Note: The story has been edited to clarify that Pfizer's Prevenar 13 vaccine, not the GSK vaccine, has been distributed in Nicaragua, Guyana, Yemen and Sierra Leone.