About the illness:
Pneumococci or otherwise known as Streptococcus pneumonia is a group of bacteria that usually lives in our throat and nasal passages. These organisms can enter into other parts of the body such as the sinuses, middle ear, lungs as well as brain and lead to severe infections at certain times. Patients who are having less immunity such as patients with HIV/AIDS, on cancer treatment as well as on other immunosuppressive drugs are more vulnerable in developing this disease condition.
Infants, toddlers, elderly children as well as the elderly are more susceptible for serious illness with this organism. Therefore, lot of effort has been put in vaccinating children under the age of 2 years to promote immunity and prevent such serious illness.
The vaccine which is available for preventing the diseases caused by pneumococci in children is known as the Pneumococcal Conjugated Vaccine or PCV. This vaccine is said to be active against 7 types of pneumococci strains which are common and which accounts for almost 80% of all pneumococcal illnesses. Due to its efficacy for 7 strains, the vaccine is also known as PCV 7 or Heptavalent Pneumococcal Conjugated Vaccine.
The PCV7 vaccine was introduced and approved by the FDA in the year 2000 and since then has been a regular vaccination for all children between the ages of 2 – 23 months.
The vaccine, as with any other vaccine can cause side effects to the child. These could range from redness, local tenderness, swelling and a mild fever. In rare instances the infant can develop a high fever as well. But, even though it is possible for any patient to develop severe allergic reactions, so far none has been reported. It’s worth mentioning that the vaccine itself does not have the potential to develop pneumococcal infection as it does not possess the whole cell.
When not to give?
In order to avoid side effects as well as to prevent serious anaphylaxis reactions, children with following conditions are excluded from giving vaccination.
1. Anyone who developed serious reactions or anaphylaxis towards a previous dose of the same vaccine is excluded from receiving the vaccine. Patients who are having allergic reactions to certain components of the drugs should also be excluded from receiving the vaccine.
2. When a child or an infant is moderately or severely ill, they should not be given the vaccination as it can lead to masking or else can worsen the already existing symptoms. It is possible to vaccinate a child with a mild infection. E.g. a cold, and other children with illnesses should wait till they recover.
It should again emphasize that life threatening reactions are extremely rare and every effort must be taken in providing all the children with vaccination for their safety.