ABOUT 550 children under five years of age are admitted at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital every year with serious types of illnesses like pneumonia, diarrhoea and blood poisoning.
Forty of these children do not make it while those who survive have a very high disability rate.
Yesterday, two first-ever pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines were launched by the Ministry of Health to lower hospitalisation of children suffering from these illnesses.
According to the Fiji Health Sector Support Program's technical facilitator — infant and child care, Kylie Jenkins, pneumococcal vaccine was given to six, 10 and 14 weeks old babies with injections on their thighs.
"This will protect babies against 10 different stages of a very serious bacterial disease called pneumococcal that causes pneumonia and blood poisoning in children," she said.
"This is a very safe and very effective vaccine and the children born from September 17 are very lucky.
Ms Jenkins said the other vaccine, rotavirus, protects against serious forms of diarrhoea, sepsis that caused dehydration.
She said children below the age of five usually come across rotavirus.
Health Minister Dr Neil Sharma said a lot of children suffered from diarrhoea in Fiji.
Dr Sharma said the introduction of the new vaccine was set to decrease the mobility and mortality of children under five years of age in Fiji.
"The improved outcome of these vaccines will be the protection of vulnerable children," he said.
Dr Sharma said the vaccination process would reduce health care expenses and reduce the number of patients admitted at the CWM Hospital.