Since the introduction of the PCV7 pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, which began in 2000 in the USA, there has been a significant fall in the number of hospital admissions for pneumonia, according to a new report by researchers from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, USA. The largest drop in hospitalizations was seen among babies under the age of two.
According to Dr. Carlos Grijalva, team leader, a large number of pneumonia can be prevented with PCV7. The vaccine was intended for protection from meningitis and bacteremia. However, it also protects from other common infections, such as pneumonia and ear infections (otitis media).The team studied hospital admissions for pneumonia nationwide during two periods – 1997 to 1999 – and – 2001 to 2004. They found than pneumonia hospital admissions in 2004 dropped by 41,000. As well as protecting those who were vaccinated, others were protected, say the researchers, because they were less exposed to pneumonia (herd community effect).You can read about this study in the medical journal The Lancet.About 4 in every five infants in the USA are vaccinated with the PCV7 vaccine, say the researchers. Ideally, there should be more, they said. (Source : The Lancet : Vanderbilt University School of Medicine : April 2007.)