World Pneumonia Day: vaccines, oxygen therapy and the impact of Covid-19



It is World Pneumonia Day on November 12th.  Pneumonia and other acute lower respiratory infections remain the most common causes of childhood death, and illness requiring hospitalization globally. This is despite the effective pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) being widely available, which points to the varied causation of childhood pneumonia in 2020. Oxygen is an essential life-saving therapy for pneumonia and many other conditions, however, it is not available to many severely ill children in low-resource settings around the world. The world’s response to Covid-19 has limited the circulation of other respiratory viruses like influenza, respiratory syncytial virus and measles, and may have reduced childhood pneumonia this year, however this will not last and vaccine preventable diseases may surge. This presentation will explore the impact that Covid-19 is having on pneumonia, discuss the role of vaccines for the further prevention of pneumonia and the difficulties of vaccine programs in the pandemic year, and discuss oxygen to manage pneumonia.


Professor Kim Mulholland is a paediatric epidemiologist and researcher. In the 1990s he led the Medical Research Council, Gambia program of research covering all aspects of childhood pneumonia.  Professor Mulholland has continued to work in the pneumonia field with particular emphasis on vaccines and currently leads the New Vaccines research group at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), Melbourne.

Professor Fiona Russell is Director of the Child and Adolescent Health PhD Program, Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne; and Group Leader for the Asia-Pacific Health research, MCRI. Her research evaluates novel ways to determine vaccine impact, including PCV. This has translated to WHO policy, and she advises UNICEF, WHO, governments, and DFAT on immunisation and child health policy in the Asia-Pacific region.  Fiona leads the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence on Pneumococcal Disease Control in the Asia Pacific region in the post PCV era.

Dr Hamish Graham is a paediatrician with a Clinician Scientist Fellowship at the Royal Children’s Hospital, MCRI, and University of Melbourne. His research is on respiratory support for children and neonates, understanding refugee health and developmental issues, and models of care for children with disability. He leads research programs related to oxygen therapy and child pneumonia in Nigeria and Uganda, and child disability in Afghanistan. Hamish has been a consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF.

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