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The global effort to accelerate the availability of rotavirus vaccines in the developing world reached a landmark today with the first infants vaccinated against rotavirus in Nicaragua. Nicaragua is the first GAVI-eligible country to provide the vaccines via the public health sector. A unique collaboration between the Government of Nicaragua and vaccine manufacturer Merck & Co., Inc., will provide free doses of ROTATEQ® to all infants in the country over the next three years.

Nicaragua’s President Enrique Bolaños hosted the launch of nationwide rotavirus immunization at his home in Managua. The event was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Health (MINSA), local nongovernmental organization NicaSalud, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Merck, and PATH's Rotavirus Vaccine Program.

The introduction of rotavirus vaccines into the public-sector health program in Nicaragua marks the first time in history that a vaccine has been introduced in a GAVI-eligible country in the same year that it was approved in the industrialized world. Through commitments from national governments and technical assistance from a coalition of global health partners, we are beginning to see significant progress in dramatically reducing the timeline of bringing new vaccines to the world’s poorest countries.

PATH would like to extend congratulations and best wishes to the Government of Nicaragua and Merck on a successful and groundbreaking venture!