Pakistan has become the first country in the world to introduce the typhoid conjugate vaccine (TCV) into its routine immunization program. The government of Pakistan is launching the vaccine in Sindh in response to an outbreak of typhoid in November 2016, said a press release.
“Children are disproportionately affected by typhoid and its associated complications, and we strongly believe that TCV would protect our children against the potentially fatal disease of Typhoid,” said Dr. Zafar Mirza, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Health said in a press release.
Starting with Sindh Province, where the need is most urgent, the government of Pakistan has planned a phased national introduction strategy with strong, coordinated support from global and local partners.
In 2017, 63% of typhoid cases and 70% of typhoid deaths in Pakistan were among children younger than 15 years of age. To prevent these deaths, the phased introduction will begin with a two-week campaign targeting 10.1 million children between 9 months and 15 years of age in more than 460 urban union councils of Sindh with funding from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
This will include 4.7 million children from Karachi alone. As the campaign needs to reach older children, schools will play a major role in this program. Following the campaign, the vaccine will be given to 9-month old infants as part of routine immunization at EPI centers in all parts of the province.
“Typhoid is a highly contagious disease that spreads more quickly and easily when people live in crowded neighborhoods with weak water and sanitation infrastructure. Beginning the vaccination in urban areas is critical in preventing the disease among the communities most at risk,” said Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho, Provincial Minister of Sindh for Health, and Population Welfare.
Typhoid is preventable. Prevention through vaccination is one of the most effective interventions to reduce typhoid infections. The TCV campaign will be conducted from 18th to 30th November in Sindh and will be followed by TCV being a part of the Routine Immunization Program in December.
The government is also promoting WASH solutions (water, sanitation, and hygiene) alongside TCV introduction.
TCV is a one-dose vaccine, injected intramuscularly, which is low cost, has higher efficacy, and is expected to provide long-lasting immunity in adults, children, and infants older than 9 months of age.
UNICEF Representative in Pakistan Aida Girma said:
We applaud the Government of Pakistan for prioritizing immunization of children at risk of typhoid.
“Their phased national introduction plan for TCV will ensure that the vaccine will reach the children most at risk first.” “Before the discovery of antibiotics, typhoid would kill as many as one in five people who contracted it,” said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi. He added,
The rise of extreme drug-resistant typhoid risks bringing us back to levels of mortality not seen since the 19th century, posing a risk to all of us. That’s why the typhoid conjugate vaccine is so important and why the government of Pakistan deserves praise for being the first to introduce this lifesaver into its routine immunization program.