Following WHO Recommendations To Prioritize Introduction of Pneumococcal Vaccine in High HIV Prevalence Countries, South Africa Might Introduce It
Health officials in South Africa might add a vaccine to protect against pneumococcal diseases to its national immunization program for children after a report released last month by the World Health Organization recommended the vaccine with "special significance" for HIV-positive children, South Africa's Cape Argus reports. According to WHO, HIV infection "substantially" increases the risk of pneumococcal diseases -- which include bronchitis, ear infections, meningitis, pneumonia and sinusitis. WHO in 2005 reported that 1.6 million people die annually of pneumococcal diseases, and up to one million of them are children younger than age five mostly living in developing countries. According to a 2003 Science Daily article, a clinical trial involving about 40,000 children in Soweto, South Africa, found that the vaccine reduced the incidence of invasive pneumococcal disease, or pneumococcal bacteria in the bloodstream, by more than 65% among HIV-positive children and more than 83% among HIV-negative children. Because "pneumococcal conjugate vaccines have been shown to be safe and efficacious when used in children infected with HIV, WHO recommends that countries with high prevalence of HIV prioritize the introduction of (the vaccine)," according to the report. According to WHO, the current vaccine version PCV-7 is registered in more than 70 countries and included in 12 national immunization programs (Heard, Cape Argus, 4/11).