Media Release 26 March 2007
New Vaccine Cannot Come soon Enough
A frightening range of diseases that hospitalises hundreds of New Zealand children each year can be prevented by a
simple vaccination. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is recommending that the pneumococcal vaccine is introduced into
Pneumococcal vaccine (PCV-7) was added to the routine childhood immunisation programmes in USA in 2000, Australia in
2001 and in the UK in 2006. New Zealand’s rate of this disease means that we should also introduce the vaccine.
Serious diseases that are caused by pneumococci include pneumonia, meningitis and blood poisoning (septicemia).
The WHO estimates that 1.6 million people, including one million young children, die of this disease every year.
Auckland studies found nearly 2 of every 1,000 children under 2 years old are hospitalised with invasive pneumococcal
disease. For Maori and Pacific children the rate is slightly higher with nearly 3 of 1,000 children under 2 years old
The current childhood pneumococcal vaccine (PCV-7) protects against 7 of the most common strains that cause serious
disease in children. The vaccine is licensed in New Zealand and is available free for a small number of children who are
considered at very high risk of pneumococcal disease. The Ministry of Health is currently considering adding
pneumococcal vaccine to the free vaccinations available for all children.
“This vaccine can’t come soon enough for New Zealand children” says Dr Nikki Turner, a West Auckland GP and Director of
the Immunisation Advisory Centre
“Recognizing that (pneumococcal) vaccines with 10-13 serotypes will become widely available by 2010, WHO advises
countries to start saving lives with the available vaccine and then decide whether to switch to one of the other
vaccines when they arrive,” said Dr Orin Levine.
For more information on Pneumococcal Disease and Vaccines go to
Health Professionals http://www.immune.org.nz/?T=866
Parents and Caregivers http://www.immune.org.nz/?T=864
To read the WHO recommendations go to: http://www.who.int/wer/2007/wer8212.pdf
For more information on GAVI go to: http://www.gavialliance.org/index.php