Pneumococcal Disease & the Vaccines

The Virus

“Pneumococcus is the most common cause of bloodstream infections, pneumonia, meningitis, and middle ear infections in young children.” – CDC, 2013

Pneumococcus can cause types of infections:

Pneumonia – an infection of the lungs that is a common bacterial complication of influenza and measles. The case-fatality rate is 5%–7% and may be much higher among elderly persons. Complications of pneumococcal pneumonia include empyema (i.e., infection of the pleural space), pericarditis (inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart), and endobronchial obstruction, with atelectasis and lung abscess formation.
Ear infections
Sinus infections
Bacteremia – blood stream infection
Meningitis – the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord

  • Bacterial Meningitis – can be contagious but most is not, and some bacteria can spread through the exchange (e.g., by kissing) of respiratory and throat secretions (e.g., saliva or mucus)
  • Viral Meningitis – the most common type and is less severe than bacterial meningitis, and most people usually get better on their own. Can be spread by coming in close contact with someone who is infected
  • Parasitic Meningitis – a very rare form where the parasite enters the body through the nose and is caused by the microscopic ameba that causes a brain infection that is usually fatal
  • Fungal Meningitis – rare and usually the result of spread of a fungus through blood to the spinal cord. Those with HIV infection or cancer, are at higher risk
  • Non–infectious Meningitis – not spread from person to person; instead, it’s caused by cancers, systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus), certain drugs, head injury, and brain surgery

Meningitis Outbreaks the Last DecadeSource: USA Today, 2014

It’s Effect

“The major types of pneumococcal disease are pneumonia (lung infection), bacteremia (blood infection), and meningitis (infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord). Less severe clinical diseases include ear and sinus infections.” – CDC, 2013

“In the United States, about 90% of invasive pneumococcal disease cases are in adults.” – CDC, 2013

Annual U.S. Mortality Rate for Pneumococcus

Between 45,000 – 65,000 deaths per year

Pneumococcal pneumonia kills between 45,000 – 63,000 people in the U.S. or about 1 out of 20 people who get it – CDC, 2013 & CDC, 2014

Pneumococcal meningitis kills nearly 1800 people in the U.S. or about 3 people in 10 who get it. – CDC, 2013 & CDC, 2014

Pneumococcal bacteremia kills nearly 300 people in the U.S or about 1 person in 5 who get it. – CDC, 2013 & CDC, 2014

 The Vaccines, PCV13 & PSV23

PCV13 (Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine)

“There are more than 90 types of pneumococcal bacteria. PCV13 protects against 13 of them. These 13 strains cause most severe infections in children and about half of infections in adults.” – CDC, 2014

“PCV13 is routinely given to children at 2, 4, 6, and 12–15 months of age.” – CDC, 2014

One of the many admitted side effects is that “about 1 out of 3 had a mild fever, and about 1 in 20 had a higher fever (over 102.2°F).” – CDC, 2014

PPSV23 (Pneumococcal Polysaccharide)

“Pneumococcal disease is caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV) protects against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria, including those most likely to cause serious disease..” – CDC, 2014

Recommended by CDC for everyone over 65 and those under 65 who have severe cancers and disease

Meningococcal Vaccine Side Effects

The committee concluded the evidence convincingly supports 14 specific vaccine–adverse event relationships. In all but one of these relationships, the conclusion was based on strong mechanistic evidence with the epidemiologic evidence rated as either limited confidence or insufficient.” Of these “14 specific vaccine-adverse event relationships,” 1 of them are from the Meningococcal vaccine.  The symptom that have been confirmed to be convincingly supportive of causal is “Anaphylaxis.” – Committee to Review Adverse Effects of Vaccines; Institute of Medicine, TABLE S-2 – Summary of Causality Conclusions, 2011


US Princeton Meningitis Outbreak FedsPrinceton University Outbreak

In 2013, Princeton University suffered a serogroup B meningococcal outbreak that was “so serious in fact, the CDC is taking the unprecedented move of importing emergency doses of Bexsero, a meningitis vaccine not yet approved for use in this country” according ABC News’ Good Morning America. As stated in the story, this sets an extraordinary precedent to inoculate people during an emergency before our FDA has had a chance to approve its safety.

Nationwide Contaminated Steroid Vaccine Outbreak

“As many as 13,000 people received steroid shots suspected in a national meningitis outbreak, health officials said Monday… Officials don’t know how many of the shots may have been contaminated with meningitis-causing fungus.” – USA Today, 2012

The 17,000 contaminated steroid vials shipped lead to an outbreak totaled 751 reported cases including 64 deaths. – CDC, 2013ABC News Meningitisis

ABC News does early reporting of the manufacturer of the vaccine, New England Compound Center, and health concerns of the outbreak.

In response to these two outbreaks, the FDA and Pfizer saw a tremendous opportunity so they “accelerated the approval of Trumenba, completing the approval process in “well under six months,” the typical time frame for completing even a priority review of a new drug.” – The Washington Post, 2014


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