Measles; Rubella; Tetanus; Vaccinations; Whooping cough
The pneumococcal bacterium (also called Streptococcus pneumoniae or S. pneumoniae) is responsible for many respiratory infections in the upper and lower airways. This bacterium is dangerous for people with serious underlying chronic medical conditions and illnesses, and is the leading cause of ear infections and sinusitis in children. The most common type of S. pneumoniae infection is pneumonia.
The pneumococcal vaccine protects against some strains of S. pneumoniae bacteria, the most common cause of respiratory infections. There are 2 effective vaccines available: The 23-valent (strain) polysaccharide vaccine (Pneumovax, Pnu-Immune) for adults and the 7-valent conjugate vaccine Prevnar (PCV7) for infants and young children. Experts are now recommending that more people, including healthy elderly people, be given the pneumococcal vaccine, particularly in light of the increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The 7-valent conjugate vaccine Prevnar (PCV7) is very effective in children. Research finds that the vaccine, which was introduced in 2000, has reduced hospital admissions for pneumonia in children under age 2 by about 39%. The vaccine has even lowered hospital admissions among adults aged 18 - 39, the study found, likely because they are parents of young children who might otherwise have developed the disease. The vaccine also has benefited children who regularly get ear infections. Recurrent ear infections have fallen by 28% since the introduction of the vaccine.
The pneumococcal vaccine is now recommended by many experts for the following groups:
Pneumococcal Vaccine in Older Children and Adults. The PPSV23 vaccine is proving to be effective in reducing the rate of pneumonia in young adults, although not to the degree that the PCV7 protects young children. The benefit for the elderly -- other than protection against bloodstream infection -- is unclear. Still, pneumonia is declining among adults, which may be due to fewer infections being transmitted from vaccinated young children. Many experts now recommend the vaccine for the following older children or adults:
The safety of the pneumococcal vaccine hasn't been proven during the first trimester of pregnancy; however, there have been no adverse effects reported. When the vaccine is administered to pregnant women, it may actually protect their infants against certain respiratory infections.
Protection lasts for more than 6 years in most people, although the protective value may be lost at a faster rate in elderly people than in younger adults. Anyone at risk for serious pneumonia should be revaccinated 6 years after the first dose, including those who were vaccinated before age 65. Subsequent booster doses, however, are not recommended.
The recommended schedule of immunization for Prevnar (PCV7) is 4 doses, given at 2, 4, 6, and 12 - 15 months of age. Infants starting immunization between 7 and 11 months should have 3 doses. Children starting their vaccinations between 12 and 23 months only need 2 doses. Those who are over 2 years old need only 1 dose.
Side effects include pain and redness at the injection site, fever, and joint aches. Children are more likely to have fever within 48 hours if they receive other vaccines at the same time, and also after the second dose. Fortunately, severe reactions are very rare, even if a person is mistakenly revaccinated before the effects of the first vaccination have worn off. Allergic reactions are also very rare.
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