A case for implementation of adult pneumococcal vaccine program in Africa: review and expert opinion

Reena Shah, Catherine Gathu, Eric Njenga, Jeremiah Chakaya, Elijah Ogola, Omondi Oyoo, Andrew Odhiambo, Benjamin Wambugu, Charles Feldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vaccines are considered as a therapeutic area for children; the scientific community focuses mainly on managing chronic disease when it comes to adults. There currently is an increase in the burden of vaccine preventable illnesses in adults. Adult vaccination has been shown to dramatically increase the health and quality of life of older populations. Therefore, adult vaccinations need to be approached as a public health issue, similar to smoking cessation programs, for example. According to the Kenya Non-Communicable Diseases and injuries poverty commission report, 2018. Kenya has a high percentage of disability adjusted life years (DALYs) from communicable diseases at 63%, while non-communicable diseases (NCDs) contribute 30% of the DALYs. Specific to pneumococcal pneumonia (PP) in adults, the Global burden of disease (GBD) study in 2016 found that 2,377,697 people of all ages died from lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI) in 2016. Of these, more people died from Streptococcus pneumonia(SP) than from all other studied respiratory pathogens combined. While the incidence of LRTIs in children under five years old was reducing, partly as a result of well-established vaccination programs in children, the incidence, morbidity and mortality of PP was increasing in older populations. The expert recommendations included the following; i) all individuals 65 years of age and above, and individuals with a predisposing comorbidity regardless of age, should receive the pneumococcal vaccine; ii) several systemic modules can be emulated from the successful childhood vaccines programs onto an adult vaccine program; iii) formulation of an effective vaccine program will require collaboration from the public, the government, healthcare providers, and the media, to create awareness; iv) stakeholders who need to be involved in vaccine policy development and implementation include medical professional associations, nurses, pharmacists, clinical officers, payers (private and public insurances), government, medical learning institutions and faith-based medical organizations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number51
JournalPan African Medical Journal
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Opinion
  • Pneumococcal
  • Vaccine


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