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Pneumococcal Vaccine Lowered Children’s Risk of Antibiotic-Resistant Infections

Update Date: Oct 10, 2014 11:03 AM EDT
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The pneumococcal vaccine, which protects children from infections caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, can also reduce children's risk of acquiring antibiotic-resistant infections, a new study found.

"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, PHN, MSc, epidemic intelligence service (EIS) officer for the Respiratory Diseases Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. "Not only does this vaccine prevent pneumococcal infection, which means fewer antibiotics are prescribed, but it also prevents antibiotic-resistant infections."

Pneumococcal infections, which include ear infections, pneumonia and meningitis, can be extremely fatal in young unvaccinated children. For this study, the researchers analyzed the effectiveness of the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13), which was introduced on the market in 2010. PCV13 replaced the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7).

From 2009 to 2013, the researchers found that PCV13 reduced the number of antibiotic-resistant invasive pneumococcal disease cases by 62 percent in children under five-years-old. This study is the first one so far to report PCV13's effectiveness in protecting children from antibiotic-resistant infections.

PCV13 is recommended for all children under five. In about 75 percent of all states, day care centers mandate children to be vaccinated. 85 percent of children falling in that age group have gotten all four recommended shots of the vaccine. The four shots are usually given at two, four, six and 12 to 15 months old.

The federal government's Healthy People 2020 initiative had set a goal of reducing the rate of antimicrobial-resistant invasive pneumococcal disease from 9 to 6.3 cases per 100,000. This goal, due to PCV13, has been reached early. The team reported that the current rate of antimicrobial-resistant invasive pneumococcal disease is 3.5 cases per 100,00 children.

The study was presented at IDWeek 2014.

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