SINGAPORE: Singapore is the first country in Southeast Asia to receive Pfizer's new 20 valent pneumococcal vaccine PCV 20 after approval from the Health Sciences Authority HSA. The vaccine, which is marketed under the brand Apexxnar, has been approved for active immunisation for people aged 18 years and older.
It will offer protection against invasive pneumococcal disease and pneumonia caused by 20 Streptococcus pneumoniae pneumococcus serotypes. According to Pfizer, it also contains the broadest serotype coverage of any available conjugate vaccine.
Pneumonia is the third leading cause of death - more than 4000 deaths annually - and the fourth most common cause of hospitalisations in Singapore.
Pneumococcal infections are bacterial infections that can cause pneumonia, meningitis, bloodstream infections and other life-threatening ailments, according to the Ministry of Health.
PCV 20 will cover seven more bacterial serotypes than PCV 13, which is also manufactured by Pfizer and is currently available in Singapore, along with another pneumococcal vaccine, Merck's PPSV 23.
The approval of the PCV 20 is in line with Singapore's Healthier SG initiative which is aimed at improving population health and quality of life through proactive preventive care, regular screening and recommended vaccinations.
Despite its severity and burden on the population, awareness surrounding the pneumococcal disease and the uptake of the vaccine in Singapore remains relatively low, said Dr Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious disease specialist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital.
With the approval of Apexxnar and in line with the Healthier SG initiative, we encourage all adults to take proactive steps towards preventive care and vaccine against this disease.