The UK Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has decided against introducing a vaccination programme for adults against invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD).
The decision not to offer the vaccine Prevenar 13 to adults in high-risk groups as a preventative measure against meningitis, septicaemia and related conditions contrasts with policy in several other countries.
The JCVI claims that as the vaccine has been available for young children in the UK since 2006, ‘herd immunity’ is emerging and so there is not enough need for adult immunisation.
However, IPD has an 18% mortality rate in adults below 65 and a 33% death rate in adults over 65, with still higher risks for those with compromised immunity, liver or kidney function.
In addition, IPD survivors frequently suffer disability due to lasting central nervous system damage.
Pfizer, the manufacturer of Prevenar 13, argues that direct vaccination is the optimal approach for conferring immunity to IPD among vulnerable adults.
“We are concerned with the decision given the severe implications IPD can have for patients,” said Dr Jonathan Jones, Medical Director, Specialty Care, Pfizer UK.
“We agree with the JCVI’s assessment that herd protection is emerging. However, unvaccinated individuals are still at risk of contracting pneumococcal disease.”
Since its approval by the EMA in November 2011, Prevenar 13 has been offered to all adults over 50 in Austria, Greece, Hungary and Lithuania.
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