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Vidyya, from the Sanskrit "vaidya," a practitioner who has come to understand the science of life.

Volume 2 Published - 14:00 UTC    08:00 EST    10-February-2001      
Issue 41 Next Update - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST    11-February-2001      

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Proceed To Article Information For Patients:


Frequently Asked Questions About Pneumococcal Disease And The Prevnar ® Vaccine


What are invasive pneumococcal diseases?

Exactly what diseases are we talking about?

What other invasive diseases can S. pneumoniae cause?

Can't these invasive diseases just be treated with antibiotics?

Is my child at risk?

Is there anything I can do to help protect my child?

When should my child get vaccinated with Prevnar™?

What can be expected following immunization with Prevnar™?

 

What are invasive pneumococcal diseases?

Invasive pneumococcal diseases are caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae (strep' ta kah' kus noo-moan' ye eye), a microscopic bacterium that can be as serious as it is hard to pronounce. Many of the diseases it causes may be potentially life-threatening to children.

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Exactly what diseases are we talking about?

The one you are probably most familiar with is bacterial meningitis. Meningitis is an infection that causes an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Of the nearly 20 million children under 5 in the United States, about 1,400 contracted pneumococcal meningitis last year. That's 7 out of every 100,000. Many of these children suffered permanent hearing loss and paralysis.

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What other invasive diseases can S. pneumoniae cause?

Bacteremia (bacteria in blood), also referred to as blood infection, accounts for an estimated minimum of 17,000 cases each year in children less than 5 years old. Bacteremia can resolve on its own but can also cause serious diseases including bone, soft-tissue, and joint infections.

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Can't these invasive diseases just be treated with antibiotics?

They can be, but you have probably heard stories about antibiotic resistance and how widespread use of antibiotics has caused them to be ineffective at times. This is a growing concern in the case of life-threatening pneumococcal diseases. And that is why it is important to help prevent your child from needing antibiotics in the first place.

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Is my child at risk?

Yes, studies have shown that infants and toddlers are at risk for invasive pneumococcal diseases. This is because these diseases are easily passed among children through sneezing or hand-to-mouth contact. Antibiotic use and group-child-care attendance may also increase your child's risk for invasive pneumococcal disease.

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Is there anything I can do to help protect my child?

The good news is there is a vaccine called Prevnar™ that helps to protect infants and toddlers from potentially serious invasive pneumococcal diseases, such as meningitis and bacteremia.

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When should my child get vaccinated with Prevnar™?

Infants follow a typical schedule, getting the vaccine at 2, 4, and 6 months of age followed by a fourth shot at 12 to 15 months of age.

For previously unvaccinated older infants and children, who are beyond the age of the routine infant schedule, the dosing schedule will vary. Ask your health care professional about the schedule most appropriate for your child.

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What can be expected following immunization with Prevnar™?

Following vaccination with Prevnar™, your child may experience the following side effects. In prelicensure clinical trials, the most frequently reported adverse events included injection site reactions, fever (>38ºC/100.4ºF), irritability, drowsiness, restless sleep, decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and rash or hives.

Risks are associated with all vaccines, including Prevnar™. Hypersensitivity to any vaccine component is a contraindication to its use. Prevnar™ does not protect 100% of children vaccinated. Please see on this Web site the Prescribing Information for indications and usage, dosage and administration, and safety information.



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Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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