Pneumococcus Vaccination

July 2020

Pneumococcus infection is caused by bacteria that can cause bronchitis, pneumonia, sinusitis and middle ear inflammation, meningitis and even sepsis.
Pneumococcus infections are among the most frequent infections in human population and their course varies, ranging from mild respiratory discomfort, through sinusitis and middle ear inflammation to serious pneumonia and meningitis. It is an airborne infection spreading from infected people in the form of droplets - therefore a droplet infection – even though these people may have no symptoms.   

Pneumococcus Strain 
Bacteria or viruses of one type (in our case Streptococcus Pneumoniae) can have different antigens on their surfaces. Based on these differences, the strains of bacteria or viruses are divided into serotypes. In most cases, one type of bacterium has more serotypes; in rare cases, one type of bacterium is only in one serotype. Therefore pneumococcus also has different serotypes, depending on what antigens are present on its capsule surface. Over ninety of them have been found for pneumococcus. Different types of antibodies are created in our bodies against different serotypes.

Why it is important to distinguish between the serotypes?
Each serotype differs in its infectiousness and virulence factor, i.e. in its ability to cause illness. In addition to it, virulence represents an infecting ability of a specific serotype within the Streptococcus Pneumoniae type. One type of pneumococcus serotype is more dangerous than the other.

For vaccination purposes, these serotypes are then intentionally contained in a pneumococcus vaccine Prevenar 13.

Differences exist between the world regions as far as the appearance of the particular serotypes are concerned. They can change in time so it is necessary to monitor the prevalence of the particular serotypes and adjust the vaccination accordingly if needed. Some serotypes may occur only in a certain season of the year, some may be more life threatening. Of course these characteristics are reflected in the vaccines for Europe and the Czech Republic.

Source of Infection
The infection is either airborne or originates as an internal infection in a germ carrier whose weakened immune system enabled the creation of favorable environment for proliferation and invasion by this bacterium. Pneumococcus infections are caused by Streptococcus Pneumoniae bacteria, which can live without any symptoms in a nasopharynx of a healthy person. They may spread to other parts of the body and result in a number of other diseases. 

Symptoms of Pneumococcus Infection
Pneumococcus infections start abruptly with high fever, irritating cough, chest pain and breathlessness. They can cause bronchitis, pneumonia, sinusitis and middle ear inflammation, the bacterium may enter the bloodstream and cause even meningitis or sepsis. Antibiotics are used for treatment, however, the resistance to them is increasing. Children up to 5 years of age, people chronically ill and the elderly are among the most vulnerable. Pneumococcus infection is complicated in that it is caused by several different types of pneumococci (ca 90 types known).

Protection and Prevention
Regular optional vaccination was introduced for the most vulnerable group of children, which significantly reduced the invasive pneumococcus infection in this group. Pneumococcus vaccination is also recommended for those with chronic diseases and the elderly. Pneumonia is among the most frequent complications of the underlying condition (high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, etc.) and causes of death among not only the elderly.
Adult population can be vaccinated against invasive pneumococcus infection without any age limitations. 

Pneumococcus Infection and COVID 19
Considering the similarities between the symptoms of the pneumococcus infection and COVID 19, the wave of which is imminent again, it is advisable to vaccinate against pneumococcus in order to avoid mismatching their symptoms. As mentioned above, another reason why vaccination is recommended could be that the /\"waiting\"/ pneumococcus can take advantage of the weakened organism and cause infection. COVID infection may be the weakening agent and could worsen the course of the disease or increase lethality. The same mechanism applies vice versa, i.e. an organism weakened by pneumococcus infection is going to be more susceptible to COVID infection.
We recommend pneumococcus vaccination in order for you to reduce at least one of the risk factors for severe course of COVID 19.

Vaccine price (Prevenar 13) is CZK 1,710.

Can pregnant women be vaccinated with PREVENAR 13?
There is no data available regarding the use of 13valent conjugated vaccine in pregnant women. Therefore Prevenar 13 should not be used in pregnancy. 

Is the vaccine suitable for children?
Yes, definitely. However, it is an optional vaccination. Your pediatrician will give you more detailed information regarding the vaccination scheme.

We can arrange for vaccination with Prevenar 13 for the clients enrolled in our programs.
Call our client center toll free at 800 117 717.

Prevenar 13 Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) in Czech language

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