Pneumonia vaccines can potentially reduce the impact of viruses such as Covid-19, said researchers, adding that it has reduced illness and death in patients with pneumonia, serious lung conditions, and rotavirus, a common disease which causes severe diarrhea and vomiting.
The University of Melbourne-led research team, which worked with the Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services, said the results underline the importance of vaccines and how they can potentially reduce the impact of viruses such as Covid-19.
Published in the journal ‘Lancet Regional Health – Western Pacific’, the first study looked at Fiji’s national rotavirus vaccine program five years after it became the first independent Pacific island country to introduce the vaccine in 2012.
According to the researchers, rotavirus is severely contagious and the most common cause of diarrhoeal disease among infants and young children. It can even cause death in extreme cases.
After taking the vaccine, morbidity and mortality due to rotavirus and all-cause diarrhea in Fiji fell in those aged two months to 55 years. Rotavirus diarrhea admissions at the largest hospital among children aged under five fell by 87 per cent.
These reductions were most likely due to the vaccine as rotavirus diarrhoeal outbreaks remained blunted for the five years after vaccine introduction.
At the same time, in 2012, the Fiji government introduced a routine infant immunization schedule for the ten-valent pneumococcal conjugate (PCV10) vaccine using three primary doses and no booster dose.
Published in ‘The Lancet Global Health’, this second study looked at hospital admission rates for children with pneumonia at three Fiji public tertiary hospitals.
Five years after the vaccine was introduced, hospital admissions for all-cause pneumonia had fallen for children aged 24-59 months. Mortality was down by 39 percent among children aged two to 24 months who were admitted to hospitals with all-cause pneumonia, bronchiolitis, and asthma.
The study showed the effect of the PCV10 vaccine and supported its introduction for children in other low and middle-income countries in that region.
“These results provide supportive evidence of the probable benefits of PCV10 in reducing pneumonia in children in Fiji,” said study lead researcher Fiona Russell from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the University of Melbourne.