The composition of demand for newly launched vaccines: results from the pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccine introductions in Ethiopia and Malawi

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Understanding post-launch demand for new vaccines can help countries maximize the benefits of immunization programmes. In particular, low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) should ensure adequate resource planning with regards to stock consumption and service delivery for new vaccines, whereas global suppliers must produce enough vaccines to meet demand. If a country underestimates the number of children seeking vaccination, a stock-out of commodities will create missed opportunities for saving lives. We describe the post-launch demand for the first dose of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV1) in Ethiopia and Malawi and the first dose of rotavirus vaccine (Rota1) in Malawi, with focus on the new birth cohort and the ‘backlog cohort’, comprised of older children who are still eligible for vaccination at the time of launch. PCV1 and Rota1 uptake were compared with the demand for the first dose of pentavalent vaccine (Penta1), a routine immunization that targets the same age group and immunization schedule. In the first year, the total demand for PCV1 was 37% greater than that of Penta1 in Ethiopia and 59% greater in Malawi. In the first 6 months, the demand of Rota1 was only 5.9% greater than Penta1 demand in Malawi. Over the first three post-introduction months, 70.7% of PCV1 demand in Ethiopia and 71.5% of demand in Malawi came from children in the backlog cohort, whereas only 28.0% of Rota1 demand in Malawi was from the backlog cohort. The composition of demand was impacted by time elapsed since vaccine introduction and age restrictions. Evidence suggests that countries’ plans should account for the impact of backlog demand, especially in the first 3 months post-introduction. LMICs should request for higher stock volumes when compared with routine needs, plan social mobilization activities to reach the backlog cohort and allocate human resources and cold chain capacity to accommodate high demand following vaccine introduction.

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