Equal protection against pneumococcal disease with new vaccine

September 1, 2010

Infants and toddlers can receive effective protection against the 7 most common strains of pneumococcal disease, and possibly 6 additional strains, with the new pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13).

Infants and toddlers can receive effective protection against the 7 most common strains of pneumococcal disease, and possibly 6 additional strains, with the new pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13). A study published August 23 in the online issue of Pediatrics compared the efficacy and safety of PCV13 with that of PCV7, which has been in use since 2000. Half of the 666 infants involved in the study received PCV7, and the other half received PCV13, beginning at 2 months of age. Approximately 70% of both groups completed the series of 4 doses. There were no statistically significant differences in the levels of protection or safety among the groups. Immunization with PCV13 should begin at 2 months of age, with additional doses at 4, 6, and 12 to 15 months.

The number of children 5 years old and younger who have been infected with pneumococcal disease has dropped 80% since PCV7 was introduced. Before its use, more than 200 American children in this age group died each year, and the disease caused more than 5 million ear infections, 13,000 blood infections, and more than 700 cases of meningitis annually in the United States.