VANCOUVER, Washington — As the name suggests, pentavalent targets not just one, but five different diseases in one convenient vaccine. On July 30, 2014, the GAVI Alliance announced that the vaccine had been introduced in the 73rd and final GAVI-supported country. The GAVI Alliance began providing pentavalent in 2001, and thus far, the recipients have received great benefits from vaccination.
The pentavalent vaccine is given to children in three doses. It is intended to protect against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (the three together are commonly referred to as DTP), Hepatitis B, and Haemophilius influenza type B. By using this one type of vaccine, the GAVI Alliance is “increasing coverage while decreasing the number of shots.”
Ordinarily, it would take nine shots to provide this type of coverage: three for DTP, three for Hepatitis B and three for Haemophilius influenza. Consolidating the separate vaccinations into a single vaccine make inoculation cheaper, quicker and safer.
This vaccine is not solely used for convenience in developing countries. The pentavalent vaccine is used in the developed world as a simpler method for fully immunizing a child against the five diseases, without compromising the inoculation’s effectiveness.
In 2001, GAVI first began providing pentavalent in Kenya. This was only the beginning of the vaccine revolution for those most in need. Before GAVI’s intervention, “Pentavalent was only available on the private market in the world’s poorest countries and therefore out of the question for the overwhelming majority of children,” says GAVI CEO Dr. Seth Berkley.
The GAVI Alliance partnered with various donors, as well as the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank and other organizations, to not only introduce pentavalent, but to cultivate demand and a steady supply for the vaccine as well.
The WHO has reported higher numbers of children receiving vaccinations in Haiti. The pentavalent vaccine was introduced to the country in 2012, and since then, the number of children receiving vaccinations has increased. The WHO reports that by 2017, the lives of 3,000 children will be saved by the vaccine. Haitian hospitals report receiving a greater influx of patients, which gives health workers valuable experience and supports the growing vaccine market.
The final country reached by the GAVI Alliance is South Sudan. The Gurtong Peace Project projects that by the end of the year, over 450,000 children under the age of one will be vaccinated. Health professionals and organizations are urging parents to take their children in for vaccination, especially if the child is under one year old.
The GAVI Alliance hopes to increase coverage in the future. While India, Indonesia and Nigeria have all had great success with the vaccine, their coverage is somewhat limited. Indonesia and India have both received the vaccine, but it is only available in a limited number of states in each country. Both countries are currently working on expanding availability.
Now that programs have been put in place globally, GAVI and its partners seek to strengthen them and provide children with maximum protection. GAVI projects that by the end of 2015, 230 million children will have received the pentavalent vaccine.
– Bridget Tobin
Sources: GAVI Alliance 1, GAVI Alliance 2, Gurtong, WHO, MedicineNet
Photo: Medicine Net