Vaccinations: Should you give your baby vaccinations?
Vaccination: Pneumococcal (PCV)

Vaccination: Pneumococcal (PCV)

Vaccination: Pneumococcal (PCV)

Protects against: some types of pneumococcal infection
Age: Given at 2, 4 and 12-13 months
Name: Prevnar
Manufactured by: Wyeth (Pfizer)
Pneumococcal Infection?
When pneumococcal infection enters the bloodstream (invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD), it can cause serious illnesses such as meningitis, septicaemia and pneumonia within days. IPD is most common in babies, young children and the elderly. Up to 40% of the strains of bacteria are resistant to antibiotics. There are 90 different strains or ‘serotypes’, and Prevnar protects against seven of them.

The lowdown:
Studies funded by the manufacturer claim high efficacy, however these are not borne out by The Cochrane Report and independent studies published by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), which raises concerns about both low efficacy and serotype replacement.

There has been some controversy over India’s rejection of the vaccine as not cost-effective. A recent study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal concluded: “Pneumococcal vaccination does not appear to be effective in preventing pneumonia, even in populations for whom the vaccine is currently recommended.” At £152 per child, Prevnar is expected to deliver sales of between £200-£300 million per year for its manufacturer.

Side effects:
About a quarter of vaccinated children have redness, discomfort, or swelling at the site of the injection. Up to a third develop a fever of over 100.4 degrees. One in 50 has a higher fever of over 102.2 degrees.

Vomiting, diarrhea and decreased appetite are very common. Dr. J. Bart Classen, an immunologist at Classen Immunotherapies and expert on the Hib vaccine, told the US FDA that Prevnar may be seven times as toxic as the Hib vaccine, possibly causing an estimated 400 to 700 children to develop insulin-dependent diabetes per 100,000 children vaccinated.

“These cases of diabetes may not occur until 3.5 to 10 years following vaccination,” he said. The American Academy of Pediatrics say that PCV-7 (the Prevnar vaccine) may prove to be among the most reactogenic vaccine of those currently used. No studies on long term side effects exist.

Consult your doctor before this vaccination if your baby has had any of the following:

  • Previous allergic reaction to the active substances
  • Previous allergic reaction to the diphtheria toxoid
  • A bleeding disorder
  • Any neurological disorder
  • A fever or acute severe illness. Vaccination should be postponed until the child has recovered. Minor infections without fever or systemic upset are not reasons to postpone vaccination.
  • Immuno-suppressed individuals will be offered extra doses of the vaccine

What's in it? Seven strains or ‘serotypes’ of pneumonia (4, 6B, 9V, 14, 18C, 19F, 23F), CRM carrier protein (diphtheria toxoid purified by ammonium sulfate), aluminium
Image © iStockphoto

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