Having fallen victim to pneumonia just last week, I decided to take a more in depth look into the illness. After just a couple minutes of research, I was surprised to find that there is a vaccine to help prevent the sickness. I immediately called my mom and asked why I had not received the pneumonia shot, especially when I receive a flu shot every year. To my surprise, she explained that I had gotten the pneumonia vaccine when I was four. Of course, now I am inspired, as a well informed SC200 student, to look into whether the pneumonia vaccine is legitimate, and why it may not have prevented me from acquiring the infection.
For those of you who are not familiar with the illness, pneumonia is basically a respiratory infection that “that inflames air sacs in one or both lungs, which may fill with fluid,” according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The NHLBI explains that signals of pneumonia include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath and chest pains. Pneumonia is often treated with antibiotics and steroids. The “out of breath” feeling caused by this illness can last for weeks, and even months.
The CDC, or the Center for Disease Control explains that there are two types of pneumococcal vaccines. “PCV13 or Prevnar 13 is recommended for all children younger than 5 years old, all adults 65 years or older, and people 6 years or older with certain risk factors. PPSV23 or Pneumovax is recommended for all adults who are 65 years or older and for people 2 through 64 years old who are at high risk for pneumococcal disease,” states the immunization report. The CDC claims that the immunization is effective, however, a study done by Genocea Biosciences has found an alternative hypothesis.
According to Reuters.com and Yahoo News, “Drug developer Genocea Biosciences Inc said it was suspending the development of a vaccine for pneumonia-causing bacteria after it failed to significantly reduce infection in a mid-stage study.”
The vaccine, known as GEN-004 was used in a “randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study that involved 98 healthy adults, all of whom received three doses of GEN-004 or placebo at four-week intervals. They were then inoculated intranasally” (in simpler terms injected through the nose) “with pneumococcus serotype 6B bacteria. Although the vaccine outperformed placebo in reducing the colonization rate of the bacteria, it failed to do so in a statistically significant way,” stated FierceVaccines. The company is looking in the future to change dosage amount and the amount of people involved in the trial to hopefully come across better results.
From here, I decided to look at some statistics based on individuals who received a pneumococcal vaccination and whether or not they had ever contracted the illness. Through the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, I discovered that the immunization only protects against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria.
Though people have found success with the vaccine, especially in their older age, there is still an obvious glitch. The vaccine is clearly not 100% effective and is still being tested. Overall, I am now more informed of the sickness and will follow more results as they become available.
Sources: Liveliness within article
WHO – World Health Organization
National Foundation for Infectious Diseases