Pfizer urges kids to get pneumococcus vaccines

The China Post news staff

The China Post news staff–Now is the best time for children aged under 5 to take pneumococcus vaccines to stave off invasive pneumococcal infections most likely to be caught in autumn and winter, according to Pfizer Taiwan. The Prevenar 13, Pneumococcal 13-Valent Conjugate Vaccine offered by Pfizer is now available through the Cabinet-level Department of Health (DOH), as well as from both Taipei and New Taipei local governments, for vaccination of children younger than 5.

The DOH offers free vaccination for children in this age group from medium- and low-income households and in remote areas. In Taipei, children aged 1-5 and with medical care subsidy certificates can be vaccinated free of charge at all Taipei City Hospital branches; free vaccination are available for all children aged 2-5 in New Taipei.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there were a total of 205 cases of invasive pneumococcus confirmed in children aged under 5 in Taiwan in 2011, up 12 percent from the average of the preceding three years. CDC statistics also indicated that close to 50 percent of such cases were reported from September to February over the past three years. Once the temperature falls under 25 degrees Celsius, the number of such cases usually begins to rise, and if the temperature drops to 15-16 degrees Celsius, the number of cases would double, according to CDC tallies. As it takes around three weeks for children to develop antibodies after they’re vaccinated, those children aged under 5 who have yet to take the vaccine should receive it as soon as possible, now that the average temperature has fallen under 15 degrees Celsius since Sept. 15, Pfizer Taiwan officials said. Statistics also indicated that 48.3 percent of invasive pneumococcus cases confirmed in 2011 involved the serotype 19A, up from 12.2 percent in 2008. This form is the mostly likely to lead to such complications as meningitis, and septicaemia.