How to Protect Yourself from Pneumonia: Understanding the Risks and Importance of Vaccination

According to data from the Department of Health, pneumonia is the second leading killer in Hong Kong, and nearly 10,000 Hong Kong citizens will die of pneumonia in 2021. Even when there is no new crown pneumonia epidemic, the threat of pneumonia has always been lurking, especially the two groups of children under 2 years old and people over 50 years old are the most at risk. In addition to viruses, bacteria can also cause pneumonia. Pneumococcus is often found in the nostrils or throat. When we are healthy, we are “good neighbors” with bacteria.

Pneumococcal infection can be fatal within hours

But when the immunity is weakened, it may take advantage of the situation, causing sinusitis, otitis media, and upper respiratory discomfort in mild cases, and severe cases such as meningitis, bacteremia, and sepsis in severe cases. If groups with weakened immune systems, such as young children or the elderly, are infected by invasive pneumococcus, the course of the disease can be more complicated and changeable, and it can even be fatal within a few hours. Therefore, do not underestimate symptoms such as fever and cough, and seek medical advice as soon as possible. Once pneumococcus spreads to other important parts of the body such as the brain, blood vessels, and lungs, the sequelae will be disastrous.

[Same Field Gayon]Symptoms of Pneumococcal Infection/High-risk Groups/Prevention Methods

Vaccination is effective against pneumococcus

According to folklore, as long as you have been infected with pneumococcus, you can get autoimmunity. But the fact is that there are more than 90 serotypes of pneumococcus, even if a patient has been infected with one serotype of pneumococcus in the past, it may not be able to develop the same immunity to other serotypes of pneumococcus. Therefore, pneumococcal vaccination is still the best way to prevent infection. The “flow to the left and lung to the right” that the government often promotes exactly refers to the pneumococcal vaccine. Babies born in Hong Kong can go to government-designated places for free vaccinations before the age of 1, but parents should not take it lightly. Even though the free vaccination program has been implemented for more than ten years, there are still sporadic cases of serious pneumococcal infection or death among young children every year.

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Pneumococcal Vaccination Program (Source: Department of Health)

There are 3 pneumococcal vaccines

The pneumococcal vaccine is an inactivated vaccine. After the vaccination, the body will recognize the relevant bacteria and develop resistance. Even if the relevant person is still infected with pneumococcus after vaccination, the disease can be controlled more effectively and the risk of serious complications can be reduced. Currently, there are three types of pneumococcal vaccines available on the market, namely 13-valent conjugate vaccine (13-valent vaccine) and 23-valent polysaccharide vaccine (23-valent vaccine), as well as the recently launched 15-valent conjugate vaccine (15-valent vaccine).

The 23-valent vaccine, as the name suggests, can prevent more types of pneumococcus; the 13-valent vaccine provides better immunity to non-invasive pneumococcal disease than the 23-valent vaccine. As for the new 15-valent conjugate vaccine (15-valent vaccine), it can protect against both invasive and non-invasive pneumococcal disease, and can be more effective in preventing serotype 3 pneumococcus, the most common and invasive type of pneumococcus in Hong Kong. pneumococcal immune response was about 60% higher than that of 13-valent vaccine.

According to local epidemiological data, from 2016 to 2020, serotype 3 infections accounted for more than 40% of elderly people aged 50 or above; among children and young adults aged 2 to 17, it was as high as 70%. Serotype 3 is more resistant to antibiotics, which greatly increases the difficulty of treatment and mortality. Studies have pointed out that the mortality rate of infection with serotype 3 pneumococcus is 47%. Therefore, if we can more accurately deal with the “bad bacteria” of pneumonia prevalent in Hong Kong, it can provide a more effective epidemic prevention barrier for the “old and young” in Hong Kong.

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[Same Field Plus]Pneumococcal Vaccine Vaccination Types/Risks/Adverse Reactions for Elderly and Children

Liu Zhulue, a specialist in respiratory system

Author: Liu Zhulue, a respiratory specialist

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2023-05-29 14:04:10

#Infection #pneumococcus #fatal #hours

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