South Africa Begins Introduction of PREVENAR into Childhood Immunization ProgramSouth Africa Begins Introduction of PREVENAR into Childhood Immunization Program
–First African Nation Plans to Phase in Routine Vaccination Program Against Pneumococcal Disease for Infants and Young Children–
Collegeville, Pa.– Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, a division of Wyeth (NYSE: WYE), today announced that South Africa has initiated an immunization program against pneumococcal disease with PREVENAR® (Pneumococcal Saccharide Conjugated Vaccine, Adsorbed), a vaccine which helps protect infants and young children against the seven vaccine serotypes causing the majority of pneumococcal disease worldwide. The South African government launched the pneumococcal disease immunization program in the Eastern Cape district of Ukhahlamba last week and has plans to expand the program nationwide by the end of March 2009.
This historic initiative will support the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to reduce child mortality in children younger than five years of age. Including South Africa, there are now 27 countries that have included PREVENAR in their national immunization programs.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), pneumococcal disease causes nearly 1.6 million deaths in children each year and is the leading vaccine-preventable cause of death in children younger than five years of age worldwide.
“South Africa’s decision to introduce PREVENAR into the national childhood immunization schedule will bring this potentially life-saving vaccine to children in need,” says Joseph Mahady, President, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. “Given the documented public health benefits that have been seen in other regions where PREVENAR is routinely used, this announcement holds great promise for the more than one million children born every year in South Africa.”
Given the significant burden of pneumococcal disease and the demonstrated vaccine efficacy, in March 2007, WHO recommended priority inclusion of the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in national childhood immunization programs worldwide. Recently, the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) to WHO issued a preliminary recommendation that pneumococcal disease prevention be ranked as a very high priority on a global basis.
PREVENAR®, the only licensed pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, is now available in 88 countries around the world, with more than 180 million doses distributed.
Pneumococcal disease affects both children and adults and is a leading cause of illness and death worldwide. Pneumococcal disease is caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae and describes a group of illnesses, including invasive infections, such as bacteremia/sepsis and meningitis, as well as pneumonia and upper respiratory tract infections, including otitis media.
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