Today Kenya became the first African country to introduce the pneumococcal vaccine. Hundreds of infants received shots to prevent pneumococcal disease, a disease that takes the lives of over a millions people every year. “Today’s introduction of the pneumococcal vaccine in Kenya is an historic step toward improved health for children in Kenya and in other developing countries,” said Kenya’s minister for Public Health and Sanitation.
Nicaragua, Guyana, Yemen and Sierra Leone will also be pushing the vaccinations with support from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI). Since 2000, the GAVI has prevented more than five million future deaths and helped protect 288 million children with new and underused vaccines. The GAVI alliance goal is to get enough funding so by 2015 over 40 countries will be introducing the pneumococcal vaccine. They will need to raise US$3.7 billion over the next five years to continue the immunizations in the world’s poorest countries.