Pentavalent vaccine now available in 73 countries

The GAVI Alliance announced on Wednesday that the five-in-one pentavalent vaccine is now available in 73 countries.

South Sudan became the latest GAVI-supported country to introduce the vaccine on July 16, according to a GAVI Alliance press release.

The South Sudanese government said that 450,000 children will receive the vaccine over the next year. The GAVI Alliance estimates that more than 230 million children globally will receive the vaccine by the end of 2015.

"We are at the end of the first chapter in a compelling story," Seth Berkley, the CEO of the GAVI Alliance, said. "Little more than a decade ago pentavalent was only available on the private market in the world's poorest countries and therefore out of the question for the overwhelming majority of children. Today, thanks to leadership from countries and determination and expertise across the Alliance, we are seeing children in the world's poorest countries being protected on a daily basis with this important vaccine."

The GAVI Alliance is working to increase the coverage level of pentavalent, which was at 53 percent at the end of 2013. The Alliance is aiming to have coverage up to 77 percent by the end of next year.

The pentavalent vaccine protects against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, as well as hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenza type B.