Pneumonia Vaccine for Kids Also Helps Adults
The incidence of pneumonia among seniors has droppedsignificantly, possibly due to the introduction of a pneumoniavaccine for children. The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine(PCV-7) was licensed for use in infants and young childrenin March 2000, and since then, use of the vaccine hasbeen shown to affect transmission of the disease in the community.Declines in incidences of pneumonia were noticedas early as 1 year after PCV-7 was introduced.
Researchers at the Minnesota Department of Health conducteda study to determine whether the early declineamong seniors has continued in the 4 years since PCV-7 waslicensed. The study included data of invasive pneumococcaldisease in 8 US geographical areas from 1998 to 2003. Theresearchers found that the incidence of disease amongadults aged 50 years and older dropped 28%, from 40.8 casesper 100,000 to 29.4. During 2002 and 2003, the overall rateof disease among patients aged 65 years and older was lowerthan the Healthy People 2010 goal of 42 cases/100,000.Among adults aged 50 years and older, incidence of diseasecaused by the 7 serotypes declined by 55%, from 22.4 to10.2 cases/100,000.
The researchers estimate that 12,500 fewer cases of pneumoniaand 1100 fewer deaths from the disease occurredamong seniors in 2002 and 2003, compared with the numbersof cases and deaths that occurred before the vaccinebecame available.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.