Vaccine Cuts Rates of Pneumonia, Meningitis

Reduction most pronounced among black children who get Prevnar, study finds

TUESDAY, May 11, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A vaccine on the market since 2000 has reduced the incidence of childhood pneumonia and meningitis, particularly among black Americans, according to a study in the May 12 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Blacks in the United States historically have had a higher incidence of the two diseases than whites. The widest disparities occur among children in the first two years of life and among adults 18 to 64 years old.

A new vaccine for children, Prevnar, was recommended in October 2000. Before the vaccine's release, blacks had a 2.9 times higher risk of contracting pneumonia and meningitis than whites; afterwards, that risk dropped to 2.2 times higher, according to the study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The risk among black children younger than 2 dropped from 3.3 times higher than white children to 1.6 times higher.

Researchers found that from 1998 to 2002, annual disease rates decreased from 19 to 12.1 cases per 100,000 among whites and from 54.9 to 26.5 cases per 100,000 among blacks.

The report jibes with another recent study that found infants inoculated with Prevnar were less likely to spread the pneumococcal germ to their parents and siblings.

More information

The Immunization Action Coalition has more about pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.

SOURCES: American Medical Association, news release, May 11, 2004
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