The vaccine is being rolled out by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, with support from the Australian aid agency, Ausaid.
It's being produced by a local company for local conditions.
Four provinces will begin immunising children immediately, with the rest of Indonesia following later next year.
Speaker: Helen Evans, deputy CEO of the GAVI alliance
EVANS: The pentavalent vaccine is five key childhood immunisation vaccines. For a long time we've had DTP, which is diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough, and this one then adds hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenza. So it adds two more key childhood immunisation vaccines that are protecting children. Three doses and it starts when they're six weeks old, and by putting them altogether, putting five in one vaccine means that it reduces the number of shots that children have. That's also an advantage.
LAM: So in terms of healthcare how significant is this roll-out for Indonesian children?
EVANS: Well I think it's very significant for Indonesian children because they have been having four of those five, but it adds the Haemophilus influenza vaccine. That is a cause of enormous death and distress, is one of these bacterial infections that you can actually eliminate, you can actually wipe it out. It's about 95 per cent effective. So by including it now in this pentavalent vaccine it should be very significant for Indonesian children, because hopefully we'll wipe out that type of pneumonia in Indonesian children.
LAM: And Helen Evans I understand that this is the last time that GAVI will be launching a vaccine in Indonesia. Does that mean that the Indonesian pharmaceutical industry is now well positioned to go it alone?
EVANS: Well that's one of the other very exciting things about this launch is that Indonesian children are going to be vaccinated by a vaccine that's produced right here in Indonesia. So as you say Indonesia is really strengthening its self-sufficiency in terms of providing vaccines, providing locally made vaccines that are customised for their children, and that it will go on providing them when GAVI's support stops. GAVI's support will stop at the end of 2016 and that's because Indonesia has a growing economy and the GAVI Alliance provides vaccines only to the poorest countries in the world that can't afford to vaccinate their children. And Indonesia is moving out of that stage, economically it's growing, it's able to afford its vaccines. But excitingly it's also producing its own vaccines too. And it's one of the things we're very proud to have been part of because the GAVI Alliance by providing a market for vaccines in developing countries has also encouraged developing countries themselves in emerging economies like Indonesia to develop their own pharmaceutical industry.
LAM: And Helen the Indonesian company that you're working with and GAVI has been working with has been able to use its local knowledge to increase the effectiveness of the roll-out. Can you expand on that a little?
EVANS: Yes and once again this customising for the local market. It's producing a five-dose vial, that means it's packaged in a five doses each vial. Locally they've tested that and they've found that's the most efficient way of producing it in Indonesia. You see these vaccines of course have to be kept cold so they take up space in fridges, and you want a vial that minimises the number of spaces take up but you don't want to have a lot of wastage. So quite a lot of the pentavalent vaccines in other countries are produced in ten dose vials but Biofarma looked at the local market and decided that five vial dose was the most efficient way of producing it. So that's where their local knowledge has really helped to produce a product that's really appropriate and the most efficient for Indonesia.
LAM: In regional terms do you think GAVI's work in Indonesia might have a positive impact on neighbouring countries in terms of vaccines?
EVANS: Oh indeed I do because Biofarma is accredited by the Indonesian National Registration Agency, and the National Registration Agency in Indonesia has pre-qualifications by the World Health Assembly, so that's really important. And then if the pentavalent vaccine and other vaccines that Biofarma produces get pre-qualification by WHO, then these will be more supplies that are available in countries in the region. And GAVI is very excited to be partnering with Biofarma and we hope that once they get WHO pre-qualification then that'll be a bigger market for the local region.