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Vaccine Health Impact & Safety

Routine pneumococcal immunization programs with the 13-valent PCV in North America have demonstrated a phenomenal health impact. Pneumococcal disease incidence was reduced both in the vaccinated children due to the direct effects of the vaccine and in unvaccinated children and adults due to herd immunity. Routine immunization was also shown to reduce health disparities by substantially improving child survival in certain vulnerable sub populations.

Two studies testing the efficacy of the 9-valent PCV in The Gambia and South Africa demonstrate that multi-valent PCVs are safe and effective even for HIV-positive children. Multi-valent pneumococcal vaccines have the potential to make a major health impact especially in rural settings where access to treatment is limited. Vaccine efficacy has also been demonstrated in Asia; a large-scale efficacy trial of PCV11 observed a reduction in pneumonia cases among the vaccinated group of children.

Because vaccines are given to healthy children to keep them healthy, vaccine safety is critical. Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines have a very good safety profile. The World Health Organization recently reviewed all the available data on the safety of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines and the following statement from their website summarizes their findings: "Currently available PCVs are safe and efficacious and the increased number of serotypes present in these vaccines, compared to the first licensed PCV7, represent significant progress in the fight against pneumococcal morbidity and mortality, in particular from a developing country perspective."

The current evidence on the safety of multivalent pneumococcal conjugate vaccines is reassuring. Clinical trials and post marketing surveillance in countries that introduced the vaccines have not identified major safety concerns. While there has been a weak and inconsistent signal of increases in reactive airway conditions in some studies, these effects have not been consistently observed.

Vaccine Health Impact Details