Pneumococcal Vaccine Prevents Antibiotic-Resistant Infections

The vaccine that prevents illness and death from pneumococcal infection also combats severe antibiotic-resistant disease in young children.

The vaccine that prevents illness and death from pneumococcal infection also combats severe antibiotic-resistant disease in young children, according to a study presented at IDWeek 2014.

The 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) first became widely available in 2010. It is currently administered to children in 4 doses at age 2, 4, 6, and 12 through 15 months in order to protect them against 13 strains of pneumococcal infection, the most common vaccine-preventable bacterial cause of mortality.

In the study, the PCV13 vaccine reduced the incidence of serious pneumococcal disease caused by antibiotic-resistant superbugs by 62% between 2009 and 2013 among those aged <5 years.

"We're at risk of living in a post-antibiotic world, where these miracle medications no longer work, but this vaccine is part of the solution to protecting ourselves from the growing threat of antibiotic resistance," said lead researcher Sara Tomczyk, epidemic intelligence service officer for the Respiratory Diseases Branch at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a press release. "Not only does this vaccine prevent pneumococcal infection, which means fewer antibiotics are prescribed, but it also prevents antibiotic-resistant infections."

Through its Health People 2020 initiative, the US government set a goal to reduce instances of antimicrobial-resistant pneumococcal disease from 9.3 to 6 cases per 100,000 children. Due to the effectiveness of the pneumococcal vaccine, the government met its goal 9 years ahead of schedule.

Currently, three-quarters of US states require the pneumococcal vaccine for entry into daycare, and 85% of US children have received all 4 recommended doses.

In addition to pediatric patients, 1 dose of PCV13 is now recommended for all adults aged 65 and older, followed by 1 dose of the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) 6 to 12 months later. Additionally, 1 dose of PCV13 is recommended for adults aged 19 and older with certain cancers, HIV, and kidney failure, followed by doses of PPSV23.