Children's vaccination can keep adults healthier

Since the introduction of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV-7) for babies and toddlers in 2000, the rate of invasive pneumococcal disease in adults over age 50 decreased by 28 percent, The new vaccine provides protection against seven types of Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. These bacteria are also commonly known as pneumococcus. Pneumococcal infections can cause pneumonia, meningitis, blood infections and ear infections, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

Pneumococcal bacteria are estimated to cause 40,000 deaths each year, according to the NIAID.

Pneumonia and complications from the flu kill nearly 64,000 Americans each year, many of them elderly, and millions get an annual shot of flu vaccine to try to prepare their immune systems to fight off illness, according to Reuters.

Children under 2, adults over 65 and those with compromised immune systems are most susceptible to these infections. A vaccine that covers 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria is available for adults, and is recommended for people over 65, those with weakened immune systems, and anyone with a chronic medical condition, such as heart failure and diabetes, according to the NIAID.

To measure whether the introduction of the children's vaccine had an effect on overall disease rates, Lexau and fellow researchers from eight sites across the United States tracked rates of pneumococcal disease in people over 50 from 1998 through 2003. The researchers included several years prior to the introduction of the vaccine to assess its true effect on the incidence of disease, Forbes reports. A.M.

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