“Pneumonia” the old man’s friend. The most frequent “sendoff” in the pre antibiotic era. In the US infectious disease remains a leading cause of death primarily due to pneumonia. Each year the bacteria Streptococcus pneumonia (pneumococcal) disease kills thousands of adults. It is spread from person to person through, coughing, sneezing and close contact. People can carry the bacteria in their throat, nose and sinuses and show no symptoms of infection and still spread the bacteria to people who do become ill. Illness can range from upper respiratory tract infections; sinus, ears and throat to much more severe disease (invasive pneumococcal disease, IPD) defined as pneumonia, blood stream infection and meningitis. There are dozens of different types of pneumococcus that vary by polysaccharides in the capsule that surrounds them.
Vaccination against pneumococcal disease started in the pediatric age group and was quickly shown to be highly effective and then introduced to the adult population with similar results. It has been proven that vaccines against pneumococcus are safe and effective and DON’T CAUSE autism. Current recommendations are that adults 65 years old should receive 2 vaccines separated by at least one year. Re-vaccination with the same vaccine is generally not recommended. PCV13 followed by PPSV23 after 1 year. The number on the vaccine tells you how many different types of pneumococcus are covered. Long term studies have shown a 75% reduction in IPD in adults after one dose of PCV13 or PPSV23 for the covered types and an overall 45% reduction against pneumococcal infections in general. Estimates for the U.S. project a vaccine related reduction of 3,000 deaths and 30,000 cases of IPD over the next 3 years.
Monitoring pneumococcal sub-types in the community allows us to produce more effective vaccines based on the sub-types identified. ENCORE Research Group is excited to participate in new pneumonia vaccine research! If you or someone you know may be interested in participating in our research, call our office to find out more!
Written By: Mitchell Rothstein, MD