1. National governments must commit to fully protecting all children under five years of age with the WHO-recommended pneumonia-fighting vaccines by 2030, including with three doses of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), the haemophilus influenzae type B vaccine (Hib) and the diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine (DTP), and two doses of the measles vaccine (MCV).
2. International donors must fully replenish Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) in 2020, so that Gavi-eligible countries have the support they need to fully protect all children under five years of age with the existing pneumonia-fighting vaccines.
3. International donors and global health agencies should continue to support existing and new vaccine manufacturers to ensure the continued supply of affordable, quality pneumonia-fighting vaccines, especially PCV, for both Gavi-eligible and non-eligible countries, so that all children and other vulnerable populations can be protected.
4. National governments should make plans to introduce emerging pneumonia-fighting vaccines as they become available, including a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and improved influenza vaccines, prioritizing access to the most vulnerable populations (e.g., children, the elderly, healthcare workers etc), as appropriate for each vaccine and in each country setting.
5. During the COVID-19 pandemic, national governments must make every effort, with support from global health agencies where necessary, to continue to vaccinate children with the pneumonia-fighting vaccines, reducing the risks of increases in child deaths from all-cause pneumonia and increases in adult and child deaths from COVID-19 due to co-infection.
6. National governments and global health agencies should adopt a “life-cycle” approach to protection with the pneumonia-fighting vaccines, by ensuring that both children and the elderly are protected, especially in those countries experiencing a “double-burden” of pneumonia deaths among both populations.
7. Delivery of the pneumonia-fighting vaccines should form part of national Pneumonia Control Strategies that ensure access to the range of preventive (e.g., vaccines, child nutrition, air pollution, WASH etc), diagnostic (e.g., pulse oximetry) and treatment (e.g., oxygen therapies and recommended child-friendly antibiotics where appropriate) services that are required to achieve universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The potential for vaccination to significantly reduce the massive burden of sickness and death caused by pneumonia-causing pathogens is far from exhausted and increasingly necessary in the context of demographic shifts, urbanization, air pollution, and the likelihood that other novel respiratory pathogens will emerge. COVID-19 has demonstrated how vulnerable every nation is to a pandemic of respiratory infection and underscored the absolutely critical role of vaccination in ending the outbreak. Full coverage of the pneumonia-fighting vaccines – including a vaccine for COVID-19 – builds a strong foundation for all nations to deliver on the grand promise of the SDGs, to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.”