Fighting to Give Kids "A Fair Shot"

Yann Libessart/MSF

Pneumonia kills nearly one million kids each year. It’s the leading cause of childhood death. There’s a vaccine, but it’s priced out of reach for many countries and humanitarian organizations. That’s why Doctors Without Borders'/Médecins Sans Frontières' (MSF’s) Access Campaign launched the “A Fair Shot” initiative.

Today’s lowest global price is $10 per child (for all three doses needed)—but that price is only available to a limited number of countries and is still too high.

For the last five years, MSF has been trying to negotiate lower pricesfor the vaccine with Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the two pharmaceutical companies that produce it, for use in our programs. In 2013, MSF had to pay twice the lowest global price to vaccinate children in Yida refugee camp in South Sudan. Increasingly, the price of this vaccine has become a major obstacle to doing the medical work we need to do. The companies together have reported $28 billion in global sales for this vaccine, but they won’t reduce the price enough so that developing countries can afford it over the long term.

The price to vaccinate a child is now 68 times higher than it was in 2001, in large part because important vaccines, like the pneumonia vaccine, are too expensive. We need to change this situation, or millions of children will not be protected against this preventable killer disease.

One obstacle is that pharmaceutical companies do not publish the prices they charge different countries. In May, at the annual World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, all 193 member governments passed a landmark resolution demanding more affordable vaccines and increased transparency around vaccine prices. More than 60 governments directly spoke out about their issues with high vaccine prices and rising inequities.

Earlier this year, MSF launched the “A Fair Shot” campaign, calling on Pfizer and GSK to reduce the price of the pneumococcal vaccine to $5 per child (for all three doses) for all developing countries and humanitarian organizations. Since then, our call has been amplified many thousands of times on social media and in news reports, but the companies haven’t budged on price.

Now it’s time to ramp up the pressure. On November 12, on the occasion of World Pneumonia Day, MSF launched a global petition asking Pfizer and GSK to reduce the price of the pneumonia vaccine and give all children a fair shot at being protected against pneumonia.

You can help make this change happen. When you sign our petition at, you’ll join a growing community of people putting their voices together to tell Pfizer and GSK that it’s time to drop the price, so more lives can be saved.

Sudanese refugees began streaming across the border into South Sudan in June 2011 when conflict erupted between the Khartoum government and the rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) in Sudan’s South Kordofan State. At the height of the crisis in Yida camp last summer, high mortality rates were reported among young children admitted to MSF’s hospital with respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia, one of the leading causes of death. MSF determined that vaccinating with the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) could result in a substantial mortality reduction in Yida. MSF has been working since September 2012 to procure PCV but faced significant delays due to lengthy negotiations and international legal procurement constraints. MSF was eventually able to obtain the vaccine from GSK at a reduced price, but delays have now pushed the planned vaccination into the logistically challenging rainy season. The objective is to immunize approximately 5,000 children under the age of 2 against several pathogens, including haemophilus influenza type B and pneumococcus. This is the first time that PCV is being used in South Sudan and one of the first vaccines to be implemented in compliance with the new WHO emergency vaccination recommendations.
Yann Libessart/MSF