The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advised parents with children born between 2008 and 2011 to have their children inoculated with the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) to fend off pneumococcal infections.
Pneumococcal infections can cause invasive pneumococcal diseases (IPD) such as severe pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis, the agency said.
According to the national disease monitoring system, children under five are the most susceptible to IPD infections, which have a mortality rate of 2.3 percent.
The Department of Health started the publicly funded PCV13 program for children between two and five years of age in March, estimating that about 500,000 children are eligible for the immunization plan, according to the CDC.
However, as of May 30, only about 90,000 children have received the vaccination, accounting for only 18.8 percent of the expected total, indicating that most within the target group have so far not been inoculated against the diseases.
The disease control authority said that 44 cases of IPD in children aged between two and five have been reported since the beginning of the year, 37 of which occurred in children who had not been vaccinated against the pneumococcal bacteria. Thirty of the 44 children contracted the pneumococcal infections that are covered by PCV13, which covers 13 pneumococcal serotypes causing the majority of pneumococcal infections in young children, the CDC said.
The vaccine can be given along with other vaccines on different parts of the body, the CDC said, adding that although some who received the vaccine reported injection-site reactions such as pain and redness of the skin, few reported systemic reactions of fever and drowsiness.