Pneumococcal Vaccine To Be Tested In Older Adults
October 16, 2012

Study On Pneumonia Vaccines To Be Conducted At Higher Dosage

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

Scientists recently revealed that they plan to study the pneumococcal vaccines in older adults to determine if there´s a strong immune response due to a higher dosage of the vaccine. The study, funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) as well as the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, looked at a group of adults who previously received a vaccine that worked against pneumonia and other pneumococcal diseases.

In the study, the team of investigators will analyze two dosages of a pneumococcal vaccine that will be tested by 882 females and males who are between 55 to 74 years of age. The vaccine was approved for people of a range of ages; this includes children between six weeks and five years of age as well as adults who are 50 years of age can take the vaccine. Researchers believe that the study will help them understand how to strengthen the vaccines to better protect patients.

In the past, the vaccine PPSV23 vaccine, also known as Pneumovax 23, has been utilized to protect those 65 years of age and up from pneumococcal disease. The vaccine has been effective against bloodstream infections and pneumococcal meningitis, but not pneumococcal pneumonia. Recently, children have had the newer PCV13 vaccine, otherwise known as Prevnar 13. This vaccine works against bacterial pneumonia as well as other invasive pneumococcal illnesses, but researchers are not clear as to how effective the vaccine is in older adult populations.

The study will feature two groups of adults between 55 and 74 years of age who will participate in a randomized clinical trial. One group will have never been vaccinated with the PPSV23 vaccine, but will then be given the PCV13 vaccine. The other group will have participants who received the PPSV23 vaccine three to seven years before the start of the study, and will also randomly be given either the PCV13 vaccine as 0.5 mL injection or the PCV13 vaccine as two 0.5 mL injections in each arm. With the help of blood samples that are drawn from the participants, the scientists will be able to study the participants´ immune responses.

The research highlights the need for effective vaccines. According to the NIH, streptococcus pneumonia, a type of bacteria, can lead to pneumococcal pneumonia, a form of pneumonia. S. pneumoniae can then impact the upper respiratory tract and lead to infection in blood, lungs, the nervous system, as well as the ear. Those who are younger than five years of age or older than 65 years of age have the greatest risk of becoming infected from pneumococcal pneumonia and those who suffer from the bacteria infection can possibly be re-infected.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are over 300,000 people in the country who are hospitalized due to pneumonia. The disease has affected a large percentage of the population, ranked as the eighth leading cause of death in the U.S. for adults 55 and older in 2009. Pneumonia causes symptoms such as coughing, fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, as well as chest pain. The CDC believes that pneumonia can be prevented with the help of vaccines.