Expanded programme on immunization

South Pacific Situation Summary

The Pacific countries and areas have populations ranging from 1,000 to 800,000, with correspondingly different sizes of EPI programmes which are also differently resourced. There is a wide spectrum of population densities with some countries (e.g. Kiribati) covering huge areas and having very isolated populations which present transport challenges. Immunization coverage is generally high however the vaccine levels to contain measles are below those needed to prevent outbreaks.

Overall the Pacific has made EPI a success and continues to expand its benefits, but success can be fragile as there have been outbreaks of measles and rubella in the region. There is still inequality in the vaccines offered, with not all countries giving a second dose of the vaccine to contain measles or a fourth dose of DTP, or rubella or Hib vaccine. Challenges also include:

  • meeting measles elimination criteria;
  • strengthening the delivery of a birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine;
  • introducing new vaccines;
  • maintaining infrastructure;
  • and maintaining high routine coverage.