United States of America - The Federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recommended administration of pneumococcal vaccine during the 2000-2001 flu season. The vaccine has a demonstrated effectiveness of almost 70% in preventing infections and can be given at the same time as influenza vaccine (1).
Infection with Streptococcus pneumoniae is one of the most common causes of death in the United States, mainly in the elderly. It accounts for approximately 50 000 cases of bacteraemia, 3000 cases of meningitis, up to 175 000 hospitalizations from pneumonia and 7 million cases of otitis media yearly.
The vaccine is recommended for persons aged 65 years or older; persons 2-64 years of age with chronic cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease or diabetes, including immunocompromised individuals, those suffering from sickle cell disease or splenectomy, or ethnic groups such as Native or Alaskan Americans.
Children under 2 years of age and children up to 59 months of age who are at high risk of infection (such as those in day care, with frequent acute otitis media, etc.) should receive the pneumococcal vaccine, Prevnar® which was licensed in February 2000 (2). The vaccine is the first multivalent conjugate pneumococcal vaccine for children under 2 years of age and is administered in 4 shots. Most children over 2 years of age will only need one dose of the vaccine.
1. CDC Office of Communications Press Release, www.cdc.gov, 22 June 2000.
2. HHS News, P00-3, 2000.