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Pneumococci: is this vaccine a good idea?

Pneumococci: is this vaccine a good idea?

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Soon, because from 2017 all children will be vaccinated against pneumococci. This vaccine will be included in the basic mandatory * vaccination calendar. It is currently a recommended vaccine and available as a reimbursed vaccine for selected groups. What can you say about the pneumococcal vaccine? Is it worth vaccinating children against pneumococci? What risk do you have to take into account?

Are pneumococci dangerous?

Pneumococci, i.e. Streptococcus pneumoniae are bacteria that are responsible for serious childhood diseases. A bacterium can cause many diseases: pneumonia, sinusitis, blood infection and even meningitis. Stands out above 90 pneumococcal strains.

These bacteria are very common, they occur in kindergartens, nurseries. They often settle in the throat and nose and do not give any symptoms, until the immune system is weakened, then they can attack.

Are pneumococci dangerous? In the 1990s, the annual incidence of pneumococcal disease in the United States was estimated at 10-30 cases per 100,000 people. The most severe disease is young children, in children under 5 years old 15% of children had meningitis. According to the CDC, an average of 200 people die annually from pneumococci. What do these numbers look like in Poland? Every year, about 100 Poles die from pneumococci. For comparison, about 120 people die from influenza in Poland each year.

Who is most susceptible to pneumococcal disease?

  • persons over 65 years of age
  • children under 2 years old
  • people with reduced immunity
  • chronically ill persons

Pneumococcal vaccine

The Prevenar 13 (Prevnar 13) pneumococcal vaccine appeared in 2010 when it was approved by the FDA. It has been recommended to children from 6 weeks to 5 years of age.

Is this vaccine effective?

Prevenar is expected to protect against 13 of 90 different pneumococcal strains. The Prevnar vaccine was previously available on the market to protect against seven pneumococcal strains.

In addition to the Prevenar 13 vaccine, the PCV10 vaccine protecting against 10 strains and the polysaccharide vaccine protecting against 23 pneumococcal strains are also available in Poland - this vaccine is recommended for chronically ill people (it cannot be given to children under 2 years of age).

Pneumococci: vaccinations are they safe?

Data from vaccine manufacturers' sheets indicate the risk of many side effects from pneumococcal vaccine administration, including:

  • anemia,
  • heart failure
  • diabetes,
  • autoimmune diseases
  • pneumonia,
  • bronchiolitis
  • convulsions,
  • acute laryngitis
  • death.

Is the pneumococcal vaccine effective?

How is vaccine effectiveness calculated?

By measuring antibody levels in vaccinated people. For Prevenar 13, the levels of antibodies to 13 pneumococcal strains contained in the vaccine are measured. And so the efficiency is 64% (for strain 3), and for example for strains (7F, 14, 19A and 19F) 98%. However, it should be remembered that the vaccine contains only 13 strains. It does not protect against strains that have not been used in the vaccine.

The vaccine remains unfortunately ineffective for 75 different pneumococcal strains (not included in the vaccine).

Prevenar was licensed in 2000. At that time, 65% of all pneumococcal disease cases were caused by vaccine strains. Unfortunately, after 4 years this situation changed significantly and only 27% of cases of the disease was caused by strains used in the vaccine, and 73% of all cases were caused by strains not present in the vaccine. Scientists have noticed something else - strains not included in the vaccine have become increasingly resistant to antibiotics and drug therapies.

Is it worth vaccinating a child against pneumococci? It is worth rethinking your decision, weighing the benefits and risks of that decision.

* Detailed rules for the implementation of preventive vaccinations in Poland are set out in the Act of 5 December 2008 on the prevention and combating of infections and infectious diseases in humans. Poles are required to undergo protective vaccinations, in the case of minors, vaccinations are made by their parents. The obligation to vaccinate, however, does not allow vaccination under duress. Parents who do not vaccinate children must face fines that they can appeal to and avoid punishment.

Red Book report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases, "American Academy of Pediatrics 1994, p. 371,
S. Black, Efficacy safety and immunogenicity of heptavalent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in children, Northern California Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center Group, "Pediatric Infectious Disease", March 2000, No. 19 (3), pp. 197-95.
U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, VAERS
M. Eisenstein, "Vaccinate or not. Make an informed decision ”, Białystok 2015