Thursday, March 1

Pfizer launches pneumococcal vaccine for adults

As a parent, I am most often concerned about the health of my son. His immunization schedule is updated even up to now that he's almost twelve years old. It gives me the peace of mind that he's protected from life threatening diseases. For so many years, I have grown accustomed to thinking that vaccines are for babies because they have weaker immune systems. But just recently, I learned that vaccines are also important for adults, especially for those age 50 and above. One such important vaccine is the one against pneumococcal disease.

Dr. Rontgene M. Solante, president of the Philippine Society of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (PSMID) attests that 88% of deaths of Filipinos age 50 and above are due to pneumonia. Moreover, these individuals who suffer from pneumonia may also experience paralysis, mental retardation, seizures, learning disabilities, and hearing loss.

Meanwhile, Dr. Joe Schmitt, Senior Director for Scientific Affairs (Vaccines) of Pfizer, said that immunization becomes important for adults 50 and above because their immune systems have already weakened because of old age.

Pfizer's pneumococcal vaccine has been available in the Philippines since 2010 and it's administered to children ages 2 to 5 years old. The adult indication was then approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) in October 2011 and by the US Food and Drug Administration just this December 2011.

As it turns out, not only do the elderly need such vaccine against pneumococcal disease. During the press conference, I asked if diabetics and cigarette smokers would also need the vaccine and they confirmed that both need it regardless of age. This really gives me something to think about and I'll ask my doctor about it. I may go for it if my budget will permit me to.

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