Streptococcus pneumonia is a bacteria that is the leading cause of ear infections, bacteremia (a mild blood infection compared to sepsis), and pneumonia, the disease. Pneumonia the disease is a lung infection that can be caused by any sort of pathogen (bacteria, fungus, virus).

Merck has won approval for a “pneumonia” vaccine that may prevent Streptococcus pneumonia in adults. In kids, the elderly, and others with a weakened immune system, Streptococcus pneumoniae is a potentially deadly infection, and can easily spread to other parts of the body.

So far, the pneumonia vaccine has been shown to trigger antibodies in adults and is believed (based on construction) to have longer, more powerful protection than previous versions of pneumonia vaccines, which were only approved for children.

Having a more powerful pneumonia vaccine is important since people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have the bacteria spread and become more serious.

Still, because the vaccine was rushed through in order to meet an unmet need, it will be a year before the actual effectiveness is proven, rather than presumed.

Some people (presumably with stronger immune systems) are carriers of Streptococcus pneumonia but don’t get sick from the bacteria—illustrating how coughing and sneezing can spread illness even when you don’t have cold or pneumonia symptoms.

How do you feel about the upcoming vaccine cocktail your grocery store is sure to recommend for the elderly (flu, shingles, pneumonia)? Do you think the potential adverse reactions are worth the lives saved?


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