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Back To Vidyya CDC Advisory Committee Votes To Include Prevnar In The Vaccines For Children Program

ACIP Recommendations Call For Immunization Of All Children Up To 24 Months Of Age

American Home Products announced that its vaccine Prevnar(TM) has been included in the federal government's Vaccines for Children program (VFC). Based on this vote all VFC-eligible children up to age five will have access to Prevnar(TM). This significantly expands the market for Prevnar(TM) as 60 percent of all infants born in the U.S. are eligible for VFC and will substantially increase the public health impact of the vaccine.

The VFC is intended to increase childhood immunization levels by providing federally purchased vaccines to children who are enrolled in Medicaid, have no health insurance, are underinsured, or who are American Indian or Alaskan Native. The VFC program is administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In addition to the VFC vote, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) also recommended Prevnar(TM) for routine use in all children up to age two and for certain groups of other high-risk children up to age five.

"The inclusion of Prevnar(TM) in the VFC program is very important," says Kevin Reilly, President of Wyeth Vaccines and Nutrition. "VFC covers about 60 percent of U.S. infants and demonstrates the significant role of Prevnar(TM) in helping to prevent invasive pneumococcal disease in young children. With the recommendations made by the ACIP, Prevnar(TM) should be available to all the children who need it."

Earlier this month the American Academy of Pediatrics issued its own recommendations for the routine use of Prevnar(TM) in all children up to age two and in other at-risk children up to age five. Endorsements by both the ACIP and AAP are essential if routine immunization of children is to be implemented. Similar recommendations were made previously by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

The vaccine, pneumococcal 7-valent conjugate vaccine (diphtheria CRM(197) protein), is marketed by Wyeth Lederle Vaccines, a unit of Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, the pharmaceutical division of American Home Products Corporation. Prevnar(TM) is now available in physicians' offices and will be available through the VFC program later this year.

In the U.S. there are about 16,000 cases of pneumococcal bacteremia (bloodstream infection) and 1,400 cases of pneumococcal meningitis each year among children under age five. Children who develop pneumococcal meningitis can die or be left with neurological damage including impaired vision, hearing loss, paralysis problems and mental retardation. Pneumococcal disease costs the U.S. health care system an estimated $1.5 billion annually.

Prevnar(TM) targets the seven serotypes (strains) of pneumococcus that cause up to 80 percent of all pneumococcal invasive disease in U.S. children under six years old. These serotypes are also among the most resistant to the antibiotics traditionally used to treat pneumococcal infections.

Specifically, ACIP recommendations call for immunization of all children up to 24 months of age and all children from 24 to 59 months who are at higher risk of developing pneumococcal disease because their immune systems are compromised due to underlying illness or medical condition.

The recommendations also state that pneumococcal immunization should be considered for all children 24 to 59 months. Within this group priority is given to children who are American Indian, Native American, children who attend group daycare, or any child 24 to 35 months of age. In the U.S. it is estimated that 60 percent of children under six attend daycare, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

The ACIP advises the CDC on matters of vaccine policy for children in the U.S. It is composed of 10 members chosen for expertise in public health, vaccine research, infectious diseases, pediatrics, internal medicine, and family medicine, and representing various healthcare organizations.

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Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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