Today, Pakistan began their final typhoid conjugate vaccine (TCV) introduction campaign to ensure that children are protected against typhoid. This is a major achievement and fulfills a commitment from the Government of Pakistan to prioritize child health.
Typhoid in Pakistan
Pakistan has a high typhoid burden, which is exacerbated by high levels of drug-resistant typhoid. In 2016, scientists identified extensively drug-resistant typhoid for the first time in Sindh province. These strains do not respond to most antibiotics, complicating treatment and also raising the urgency for prevention methods. TCVs are a highly effective intervention to prevent typhoid in children who bear the brunt of typhoid illness. Data from Pakistan show that TCV is 95% effective in preventing typhoid.
Perseverance to protect children from typhoid
Pakistan was the first country to introduce TCV into its routine immunization schedule and is a global leader in protecting their children from typhoid. Vaccination began in Sindh province in 2019. Following delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government prioritized Punjab province and Islamabad in 2021. Today’s launch of the final phase concludes with a campaign in the remaining provincial and territorial urban areas. Despite many challenges, most notably the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent devastating floods, the federal, provincial, and local governments, health workers, and community mobilizers have persevered to bring TCV to children throughout the country. This is a truly remarkable accomplishment.
COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill as all efforts went to containing the pandemic. However, children remained at risk for other vaccine-preventable diseases. As a result, Pakistan forged ahead with multiple immunization campaigns, including TCV, to protect children against vaccine-preventable diseases. Similarly, Pakistan remained committed to this TCV introduction campaign despite the current flooding because of the importance of vaccines for child health. Climate change-driven weather events raise the risk of waterborne illness, including typhoid.
Reaching 5.5 million kids
This two-week campaign aims to vaccinate 5.5 million children in the urban areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Azad Jammu and Kashmir provinces. Children 9 months to 15 years old will receive one dose of TCV at fixed centers and mobile vaccination sites. Once the campaign ends, these areas will transition to routine immunization. All children 9 months old will be able to receive TCV during their well-baby appointments, which will officially make TCV available nationwide in Pakistan.
Pakistan has already vaccinated more than 30 million children with TCV in the past 3 years though the phased introduction. This final introduction campaign is an exciting milestone for Pakistan; all children throughout the country now have access to the lifesaving protection of TCVs.
Cover photo: A group of children pose showing their colored finger indicating they received TCV during the campaign, 2022. PHC Global