Vanuatu Ministry of Health announces vaccines for children

The Vanuatu Ministry of Health (MoH) will launch three additional vaccines, which will prevent and protect against pneumonia, diarrhea and cervical cancer.

The national launch will take place in SHEFA Province on Friday.

The vaccines that help prevent pneumonia and diarrhea known as Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV), and Rotavirus Vaccine.

The third vaccine known as Human Papillomavirus Vaccine (HPV) targets children in school years 4 and 5 and helps prevent HPV infection and cervical cancer.

Rotavirus and Pneumococcal vaccines will be given to children 0–1-year-old at Mother and Child Health clinics throughout the country and will become part of the routine vaccine programme.

In recent years, HPV vaccines have been available for some areas of Vanuatu, but they will now be offered to a wider group of young girls in order to protect them from getting cervical cancer when they are adults.

The Ministry of Health has decided to introduce these new vaccines as children under five in Vanuatu were suffering and dying from complications of diarrhea and pneumonia and women did not have protection against cervical cancer, which these vaccines will provide.

The National Coordinator for the Expanded Program on Immunization, Simo Samson said, “Vanuatu will now join other Pacific countries who have already introduced these vaccines”.

Mr. Simo said the Ministry of Health is making sure that when introducing the new vaccines, parents and care-givers are informed about the importance of their child being vaccinated.

The PCV13 protects against the most common forms of pneumococcal infection and disease. The bacteria that causes these infections can lead to septicemia (blood poisoning), bacterial meningitis and pneumonia, as well as milder but more common illnesses such as sinusitis and otitis media (an ear infection).

Pneumonia is caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus). There are more than 95 serotypes with a small number of these causing most cases of pneumococcal disease. Pneumococci may spread from the nasopharynx into adjacent sites causing sinusitis, otitis media and pneumonia.

Streptococcus pneumoniae is transmitted from person to person through respiratory droplets.

HPV is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract and is the cause of a range of conditions in both men and women, including precancerous lesions that may progress to cancer.

Although the majority of HPV infections do not cause symptoms and resolve spontaneously, persistent infection with HPV may result in disease.

In women, persistent infection with specific HPV types (most frequently HPV-16 and HPV-18) may lead to precancerous lesions which, if untreated, may progress to cervical cancer.

Rotaviruses infect nearly every child and are globally the leading cause of severe, dehydrating diarrhea in children aged under 5 years.

Rotavirus is a highly infectious disease, spread by close contact with an infected person, through eating food or drinking water containing rotavirus or through contact with clothing, bedding or even nappies from an infected person.

Symptoms of rotavirus disease are wide, ranging from transient loose stools to severe diarrhea and vomiting, causing dehydration, shock and death.

Vaccination is given by mouth and is safe and effective and will reduce the likelihood of the disease spreading in the community.

Statistics provided by the Health Information System shows that many children have been affected with these diseases over the past years as the number of cases increase annually.

The Ministry of Health will make sure all these vaccines are available in all health facilities in Vanuatu.


Photo file  

Tensly Sumbe