Prevnar: Just the Facts PleaseDec 22, 2000 Write an essay on this topic.
Pneumococcal disease is the primary cause of about 200 deaths yearly among children that are under 5 years of age. So what does Prevnar have to do with that and why is it known as the ear infection vaccine?
What is Prevnar?
Prevnar is available as a Pneumococcal Conjugate vaccine for infants and toddlers. It is given to help prevent the disease as well as stopping the disease from spreading. It's protection last for at least 3 years. Studies show that this disease is most prevalent during the first 2 years of a child's life. What about older kids? Well there is another version of the vaccine called Pneumococcal Polysaccharide. This article focuses on the Conjugate version only.
Why get vaccinated?
I am sure there are a lot of parents out there that don't allow their children to be vaccinated for various reasons. I do not include any information in this article that is anti-vaccination. The information I am conveying here is from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Immunization Program, which recommends specific vaccinations for children, this being one of them. While there is great debate on this issue I will leave that to another Epinion.
As I stated before, Pneumococcal disease is the cause of about 200 deaths each year in children under 5 years. It is the most common cause of bacterial meningitis and is also responsible for some blood infections or sepsis. It is also the cause of many bacterial pneumonias and about 15% or about 5 million ear infections and sinus infections. This disease has become very hard to treat because it has become resistant to the drugs we have available. This vaccine can prevent the disease that is spread through close contact.
This vaccine, if all children under 2 years old receive it, will help to prevent an estimated 12,000 cases of meningitis and blood infections, 53,000 cases of pneumonia and almost 1,000,000 cases of ear infections every year. These numbers are seriously effected if not all children are vaccinated since the disease is so easy to spread. You can see why it is called the ear infection vaccine but most people don't realize what else that little bug can do to their child.
When should your child be vaccinated?
Healthy, left to the discretion of your doctor, children should get 4 doses total of the vaccine starting with 1 at 2 months, then 4 months, then 6 months, and at 12 - 15 months. If doses are missed you can still get the vaccine but usually no "catch-up" is involved. That is, if your child missed the first 2 doses they will probably only get 2 more but that is also left to the discretion of your doctor.
For children between 2 and 5 there has not been a recommendation but there are groups of children that are at a higher risk up to age 5. The risks are increased among children with sickle cell disease, kidney disease or poor immune systems. It has also been found that Native American, Alaskan Native and African American children seem to have 2 to 6 times more risk of infections. It is also recommended for children who live in poor or crowded housing or attend group day care. Some physicians may also want your child to get the vaccine after age 2 if he/she has had chronic or difficult to treat sinus or ear infections.
What are the risks?
Studied in almost 20,000 children before licensure it appears to have no life threatening side effects or reactions. As with most vaccinations redness at the injection site is common. 1 in 5 will have a fever of up to 101, 1 in 50 will have a fever over 102. Irritability, drowsiness, restless sleep, decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, rash or hives were other reported reactions.
Of course there is always a risk of an allergic reaction. Signs of a serious allergic reaction could be difficulty breathing, hives, increase heart rate, weakness, dizziness or paleness. Call your doctor right away or call 911 in case of suspected life threatening allergic reaction and make sure that a VAERS is filled out (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) or call 1-800-822-7967 to report this yourself.
Please call your doctor's office or your local health department for vaccinations. If you have any other questions or concerns about this vaccine you can go to www.prevnar.com or www.cdc.gov/nip or call the CDC at 1-800-232-2522 or 1-888-443-7232.
As a health care professional I urge you to immunize your child not only to protect them but also to help keep the disease under control for the rest of the population.
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