The Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine Protects Kenyan Children

The Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine Protects Kenyan Children
East African Regional Meeting on Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccines: Evidence to Policy 22nd-24th June 2015

Policy makers, experts and other stakeholders in Kenya and the East African Region have gathered in Nairobi at the East African Regional Meeting on Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccines: Evidence to Policy holding 22-24th June, 2015 where they will discuss policy issues arising from preliminary results of the on-going Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine Impact Study (PCVIS). 1The PCV10 vaccine was found to reduce the number of hospital admissions with pneumonia by a quarter among children aged less than 5 years. In addition, 2invasive pneumococcal disease caused by vaccine serotypes has been progressively declining since vaccine introduction to less than 5% of pre-vaccine levels. Finally, 3transmission of the bacterium in the community has been substantially reduced as can be inferred from the two-thirds decline in carriage of vaccine-serotype pneumococci at the back of the nose among both vaccinated children and unvaccinated adults.  The reduction in transmission means that the whole population is likely to suffer less from pneumococcal disease, not just the children who were vaccinated.

Worldwide, pneumonia kills approximately one million children aged less than 5 years annually. It causes more deaths than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. Deaths due to pneumonia account for more than 15% of all childhood deaths and approximately 43% of these pneumonia deaths occur in Africa. Pneumonia is caused by many different pathogens including viruses, bacteria and fungi but Streptococcus pneumoniae also known as the pneumococcus is the single greatest cause of severe pneumonia in children. There are over 90 different serotypes or strains of pneumococcus, all of which are potentially capable of causing pneumococcal disease. However, only a fraction of these serotypes cause most of the invasive pneumococcal disease in children. In 2007, the World Health Organisation recommended introduction of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccines (PCVs) into the routine childhood vaccination programmes in all countries that have high child mortality. There are two formulations of the vaccine; one targeting 10 pneumococccal serotypes (PCV10, Synflorix) another targeting 13 serotypes (PCV13, Prevenar), Synflorix was introduced in Kenya in January 2011.

Kenya was the first African country to introduce PCV10 and there was no prior data on what impact the vaccine was expected to have when introduced into the population. The Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine Impact Study (PCVIS) is a collaboration between the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme and the Ministry of Health in Kenya and it was designed and implemented to fill this knowledge gap. It aims to determine the effectiveness of PCV10 against invasive pneumococcal disease (septicaemia and meningitis), pneumonia and transmission of pneumococci in the community.

This meeting will consider the implications of these results, and others from across the continent, for the vaccine formulation and schedule, target population, vaccine safety, implementation and coverage.  The PCVIS project will continue to undertake surveillance for pneumococcal disease to monitor the long-term success of the programme and to build up sufficient observations to estimate the protective effect of the vaccine against pneumococcal disease in unvaccinated children and adults known as a ‘herd protection’.

For more information or to request interviews contact the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme press office on

About KEMRI and the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme
In 1989 the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), one of Africa’s leading health research institutions, formed a landmark partnership with the Wellcome Trust and the University of Oxford, to establish a research programme on the coast of Kenya, the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme that conducts multidisciplinary research in epidemiology, social, laboratory and clinical research in parallel. Our mission is to deliver high quality research relevant to global health and to build local capacity for undertaking research.