Victoria, Seychelles, 9th August 2017 - The Seychelles is well on track with the preparation to introduce two new vaccines into its routine immunisation programme. This was confirmed by the two WHO Consultants who were in the country between the 24th July and 4th August 2017 to assess the country’s readiness to introduce the Rotavirus vaccine and the Pneumococcal Conjugate vaccine (PCV). WHO Consultants Dr. Mumba Mutale and Dr. Amos Petu presented their findings of their assessment at a debriefing session with the Minister of Health Jean-Paul Adam, other high level officials of the Ministry of Health and the WHO Liaison Officer for Seychelles Dr. Bhupinder Aulakh.
“We are happy to see that the country has achieved good performance of antigens coverage for many years including that of recently introduced new vaccines, achieving a coverage of close to 100% for all antigens. With regards to the planning preparation for the introduction of Rotavirus and PCV, we note that the country is very well on track. Coordination and monitoring has been very effective with key activities such as cold chain assessment already conducted and procurement of Rotavirus vaccine already done. Forecasting and planning for procurement of the PCV is also on track” said the Consultants.
“We are very much convinced of the importance of these investments. Diarrhea and Pneumonia accounts for over 50% of admissions on the Pediatric ward, and this was a very big driver for us to take this decision and bring along partners such as the Lions Club of Seychelles, Cable & Wireless and Round Table Seychelles to support the introduction of these two new vaccines” said Minister Adam.
The introduction of Rotavirus Vaccine and PCV is in line with the country’s Current MultiYear Plan (cMYP) for immunisation, as well as in line with Global Vaccine Action Plan and Regional Strategies for achieving Immunisation goals. With the establishment of sentinel surveillance for the diseases since 2014, particularly for Rotavirus related diarrhea, the country has clear evidence of the necessity to introduce the two vaccines.
WHO has commended the Ministry of Health for taking the decision to introduce the two new vaccines in the next few months. The country has been urged to continue with the preparation paying particular attention to updating and finalizing data recording and reporting tools, finalizing training of health workers to start delivering the vaccines to the population and developing communication strategies for parents and other stakeholders. Going forward, WHO has advised the country to consider strengthening the surveillance of pneumonia and institute genotyping of circulating serotypes for Pneumococcal Conjugate.
The Rotavirus vaccine will be administered to infants under the age of 12 months before the end of the year, as part of the routine Maternal and Child Health (MCH) services, whilst PCV will be introduced in the second quarter of 2018. Delivery of both vaccines will be integrated within the current package of child survival interventions and within the early childhood care and education (ECCE). The addition of these two new vaccines, Rotavirus and PCV will mean that by second quarter 2018, the country will have a total of 14 antigens in use in its routine immunisation schedule.