WATERLOO, ON, June 28 /CNW/ - In December, 2009, Health Canada approved a new vaccine for children aged six weeks through five years to prevent infections caused by the bacteria called pneumococcus or Streptococcus. Pneumococcus can cause serious infections such as meningitis (infection of the coverings of the brain and spinal cord), bacteremia (bloodstream infection), pneumonia, pleural empyema (accumulation of pus in the cavity surrounding the lungs) and is also the most common cause of ear infections (otitis) in children.
The new vaccine, called Prevnar 13, provides the broadest coverage of any pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. The new vaccine includes the seven strains in the original pneumococcal vaccine (Prevnar) and six additional strains. These 13 strains cause most cases of invasive pneumococcal disease in young children worldwide. Following the introduction of the original Prevnar7 vaccine into routine infant vaccination programs in Canada in 2005, the number of cases of pneumococcal disease decreased by over 90% in children less than five years of age. However, the disappearance of the original 7 vaccine strains has been followed by replacement with other strains, some of which, particularly type 19A, have increased in frequency. In 2009, over 90% of cases of pneumococcal disease in children under 5 were caused by serotypes present only in Prevnar 13. Type 19A is a particular problem because it is often resistant to penicillin and other commonly used antibiotics, making treatment more difficult.
British Columbia was the first province to announce it would switch to Prevnar 13 beginning in June 2010. All other provinces and territories, except Ontario and Quebec, have announced plans to switch to Prevnar 13. We strongly urge the governments of Ontario and Quebec to follow BC's lead so that children in those provinces will also be provided with the broadest possible protection against invasive pneumococcal infections.
SOURCE Meningitis Research Foundation of Canada
For further information: For further information: Dr. Ronald Gold, Senior Medical Advisor, Meningitis Research Foundation of Canada, (416) 693-4227, firstname.lastname@example.org; Kathryn Blain, Chair, Meningitis Research Foundation of Canada, Phone (519) 664-0244 or Toll-free 1-800-643-1303, email@example.com; Web Site: www.meningitis.ca; Mailing Address: P.O. Box 28015 R.P.O. Parkdale, Waterloo, Ontario N2L 6J8