Impact Of 13 Valent Conjugate Pneumococcal Vaccines In India
The universal immunization programme has helped our Indian population get vaccinated through their efforts and coverage. It targets to immunize around 2.67 crore infants and 2.9 crore pregnant women in a year. Immunization or vaccination is the most effective method of protecting children and babies from life-threatening diseases. The immunization programme by the National Health Mission has managed to bring down the number of infant deaths from 50 in 1000 live births in 2009 to 32 in 1000 live births in 2018.
What Are Conjugate Vaccines?
Earlier polysaccharide vaccines were developed in the 1970s. They protect against meningococcus and pneumococcus species. Although those vaccines effectively prevented disease in adults, they were not as effective in children and infants. Hence, scientists developed a conjugate vaccine to produce a massive immune response against the substances released by invading bacterias.
Conjugate vaccines have way more advantages compared to polysaccharide vaccines due to the following reasons:
Every immune system has a set of memory cells that record when the body encounters a foreign agent. These memory cells are responsible for producing herd immunity. Conjugate vaccines enable the ability of your immune system to maintain its memory and prevent your body from carrying bacteria. It provides long term protection and is highly safe for children and infants.
What Is The Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV)?
The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine helps protect against bacteria that cause pneumococcal disease. There are three pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV13, PCV15, and PCV20). The different injections are prescribed for different people based on their age and medical conditions.
PCV13 protects the people against thirteen types of infections caused by the streptococcus pneumonia bacteria by helping your body produce antibodies against these infection-causing bacteria.
Eligibility And Dosage For Taking Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine:
Infants and children require four doses of 13 valent conjugate pneumococcal vaccines at ages 2, 4, 6 and 12-15 months.
Children above 59 months shall receive the PCV13 vaccine if they have not received it yet. This vaccine is also indicated for adolescents with medical conditions if they have not received their first dose of PCV13.
What Are Conjugate Vaccines Given For?
Many babies under five years die of diseases that can be prevented through vaccines. Getting vaccinated on time can help reduce the incidence of preventable deaths. Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is indicated to avoid pneumococcal disease. Pneumococcal diseases like pneumonia, sinusitis, ear infection, brain infection and bacteremia are caused by pneumococcal bacteria.
While anyone can get pneumococcal disease, children below two years of age, people above 65 years and those with other medical conditions are particularly vulnerable. Sinusitis and ear infections due to pneumococcal bacteria are treatable. Still, when these bacteria infect the brain, blood or lungs, the outcomes are more likely to be fatal.
The Deadly But Preventable Pneumococcal Disease
Pneumococcal disease is a collective term used for infections caused by Streptococcus pneumonia. It is a bacterial infection that can affect the ears, lungs, brain or blood. It spreads directly through contact with the respiratory droplets of infected patients. This bacterium enters through the ears or nose and spreads to the lower part of the lungs or invades the bloodstream. When it attacks the lower part of the lungs, it causes inflammation and accumulation of fluids that cause symptoms like breathlessness, cough and wheezing.
The Population At Risk:
People who fit the following categories are at a greater risk of facing severities due to pneumococcal bacteria than others:
- Infants under the age of 2 years
- Babies or children with underlying medical conditions
- People with a weak immune system
Beware Of These After-Effects:
A study was conducted with the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine among children in India. It reported that most of the side effects were mild to moderate, with the most frequent side effect being injection site pain. The study participants experienced other effects like tiredness, muscle pain, and headache.
Pain, redness and swelling at the site of injection are some of the most common reactions one can experience after getting a vaccine shot. Other common effects include:
- Loss of appetite
- Joint pain
Contact your healthcare practitioner straight away if you experience shock, swollen lips, throat, and tongue after taking this vaccine, as these are possible allergic reactions. Also, inform if you feel dizzy, have blurred vision, or have ringing in the ears (tinnitus) after taking this vaccine.
It is vital to let your physician know if your child has recently received a vaccination for influenza before the administration of a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, as taking PCV13 and influenza vaccines simultaneously increases the risk of getting a seizure attack.
Essential Strategies To Follow:
The first and foremost step to prevent pneumonia in your child is by getting a vaccination against Hib, pneumococcus, whooping cough and measles.
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines can effectively prevent the risk of pneumonia and death due to bacterial infection in infants and immunocompromised individuals. However, there are multiple strategies to avoid the severity of conditions. In this way, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from severe infection outcomes.