October 27, 2008

Although much progress is being made in the use of pneumococcal vaccine worldwide, these life-saving vaccines are not reaching young children in developing countries that need them most.  
Pneumococcal disease is a leading cause of childhood mortality globally. Low-income countries, where most of the disease occurs, will benefit most from introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines. As of August 2008, 26 countries offered pneumococcal conjugate vaccine to children as part of national immunization programs or had the vaccine in widespread use; however, none of these countries is a low-income country. The safety and effectiveness of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines justify its use, especially in low-income countries. Much is being done to address historic obstacles to vaccine introduction in both low- and middle-income countries. On October 24, the Pneumococcal Awareness Council of Experts and its partners will issue a Global Call to Action urging access to pneumococcal vaccines for every person who needs them worldwide.