In the ever-evolving landscape of global health, a significant stride has been taken by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The announcement, straight from the heart of their mission to ensure universal access to life-saving vaccines, brings hope and promise to lower-income countries. Starting December 1, 2023, eligible nations under Gavi’s umbrella can opt for a groundbreaking hexavalent vaccine, a six-in-one marvel designed to combat multiple diseases efficiently.
As the news unfolds, it becomes clear that this initiative aims to revolutionise the immunisation landscape, offering a comprehensive shield against Diphtheria, Tetanus, whole-cell Pertussis (DTwP), Hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), and Polio. The hexavalent vaccine is not just a medical innovation; it’s a testament to Gavi’s commitment to making a lasting impact on global health.
Programmatic efficiency takes center stage in the introduction of the hexavalent vaccine. By combining the pentavalent and inactivated polio vaccines, Gavi addresses the logistical and practical challenges faced by health care systems. The reduction in the number of injections brings relief to children, caregivers, and health care workers, streamlining the immunisation process and contributing to overcoming vaccine hesitancy.
The economic implications of this shift are not to be overlooked. The hexavalent vaccine, by requiring fewer doses, translates to significant cost savings. From syringes to transportation, every aspect of the immunisation process stands to benefit, ensuring that resources are utilised judiciously, maximising the reach of vaccination programs.
One of the critical advantages of the hexavalent program lies in its support for polio eradication. By facilitating increased coverage of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), the six-in-one vaccine creates more opportunities for under-immunised children to receive crucial IPV doses. This strategic integration of IPV into a combination vaccine aligns with the anticipated continued use of IPV in routine immunisation, even post-certification era.
The benefits extend beyond the immediate, strengthening overall immunisation programs. The hexavalent vaccine, administered during the second year of life, aligns with other essential vaccines, reinforcing the importance of this critical period. Moreover, it serves as the first booster dose for diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTP), supporting a life-course approach to vaccination recommended by the World Health Organisation.
Gavi’s commitment is not just in words but is backed by tangible support mechanisms. The funding structure ensures that countries, eligible for Gavi support, gain gradual access to the hexavalent vaccine at an affordable price. This price point, set at US$ 2.85 per dose in 2024, reflects Gavi’s dedication to making vaccines accessible to all. Even fully self-financing countries and those under the Middle-Income Countries (MICs) Approach can procure the vaccine at a reasonable rate of US$ 3.00 per dose through UNICEF.
Crucially, the financial burden is shared through Gavi’s co-financing policy. Countries transitioning to the hexavalent vaccine will co-finance based on this policy, with exemptions for IPV co-financing, ensuring a balanced and sustainable approach to vaccine adoption. Gavi’s consideration of subsidies for fully self-financing countries further underscores their commitment to global health equity.
The deployment of the hexavalent vaccine by Gavi is not merely a scientific achievement; it’s a beacon of hope for a healthier and more resilient future. This initiative showcases the alliance’s dedication to innovative solutions, ensuring that no one is left behind in the pursuit of global health. As the hexavalent vaccine becomes a reality, Gavi’s legacy as a driving force for positive change in global health continues to grow.
Reference: Hexavalent vaccine programme information [Internet]. Gavi.org. [cited 2023 Nov 20]. Available from: https://www.gavi.org/our-support/guidelines/hexavalent-vaccine-programme-information