21 Jan 2015

Solomon Islands to introduce PCV 13 vaccine

4:59 am on 21 January 2015

Solomon Islands will be the seventh Pacific Island nation to introduce the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine which will protect children from diseases like pneumonia, meningitis, arthritis and bronchitis.

UNICEF Pacific says the pneumococcus bacteria is the second highest killer in children between one and five years old in Solomon Islands and that the introduction of 63,000 doses worth US $207,900 is a good start for the country.

The UNICEF Pacific Representative to Fiji Karen Allen says she the PCV vaccine has been extremely successful in other countries.

"For instance, it was introduced in 2008 in New Zealand and there was a 70 to 71 percent reduction in cases. So because this bacteria, it's actually a very significant cause of disease and death in Solomon Islands. So that's why we are very excited about it."

Dr Allen says health authorities in other Pacific Countries are aware of WHO and UNICEF reccomendations to include the vaccine in their immunisation programs but she says its cost and the need for it to be constantly refrigerated are a considerable challenge for most Pacific Island health systems at the moment.

The Solomon Islands flag

The Solomon Islands flag Photo: RNZI