As the peak respiratory infection season approaches, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has announced that two high-risk groups — elderly individuals and children previously not vaccinated against pneumococcal diseases — will be eligible for vaccinations from Tuesday next week.
People aged 75 and over can receive the Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine (PPV23) and children older than two can receive the 13-Valent Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV13) to help protect themselves, the centers said, adding that they should receive the flu vaccine at the same time to reduce the risk of severe complications or death caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae infections, or pneumococcal infections.
Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria can cause various invasive diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis and septicemia, with symptoms varying depending on which part of the body is infected.
Disease surveillance data show that invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) is most likely to occur in adults older than 65 and in children under five, among whom those aged 75 and over, and between two and five, are the most susceptible, the agency said, stressing that it is for this reason that the latter group has been given priority to the PCV13 since March.
The two pneumococcal vaccines can both be administered along with the influenza vaccine, with the right arm receiving the vaccine against the pneumococcal infections and the left receiving the flu vaccine, the CDC said.
There will be no diagnostic fee if the two types of vaccines are administered at the same time, the agency added, but a fee will be charged if only the pneumococcal vaccine is administered.
The priority groups for the publicly funded 3-valent influenza vaccine — of which 3, 047,000 doses were bought this year — are people aged 65 and above, children between six months and 12 years of age, nursing home residents, healthcare workers, people with severe illnesses, and those in the poultry and livestock farming businesses.