Let’s face it, vaccinations are a crap shoot just like life. We’re just playing the odds – either you risk your child catching a potentially deadly disease or she may contract a rare and just as horrific side effect from the vaccination. Either way, you’re taking a chance. I'm a parent, just like you, and there's no PHD attached to the end of my name either. That doesn't mean I'm not curious and anxious about my child's health. I myself have two children, ages five years and five weeks old. The oldest, my son, has been thoroughly vaccinated with all the necessary shots - or at least what my state has decided is necessary - except for the chicken pox vaccine. I’m still struggling with the decision as to whether my son will ever get his chicken pox vaccine and which vaccinations my daughter will get… if any. To be clear, though, I am not anti-vaccine. I’m pro-education. Vaccinating is a decision every parent must make and all we can do is learn as much as we can and make a decision that we can live with. This is what I’ve found during my research…
What is Pneumococcal Conjugate virus?
Pneumococcal Conjugate Virus (PCV) is actually an infection of the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, which can cause serious illness and even death. Invasive pneumococcal disease was responsible for about 200 deaths each year among children under 5 years old before the vaccine was implemented. It's also the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in the United States. Because this illness is spread through coughing, sneezing, and other general contact with an infected person, children in a daycare environment are at a higher risk of being infected.
Before a vaccine was available, each year pneumococcal infection caused over 700 cases of meningitis, 13,000 blood infections, and about 5 million ear infections. What does all this mean? Simply put - this is a type of bacterial infection that has many different ways of effecting your child and in some extreme cases it can also lead to other more life threatening infections.
The Vaccine… Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV)–recommended at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 12-15 months. The most common Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine is Prevnar. This is an inactivated vaccine that protects against seven different strains of bacteria that cause many serious infections including meningitis. The FDA cleared the seven-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine for use on February 17, 2000.The drug companies are in the process of testing a new form of the vaccine that is a nine-valent vaccine that is said to be even more effective toward fighting these types of infections.
Does it even really work?
The overall effectiveness of the vaccine is estimated to be about 57% effective against ear infections and more than 97% effective against Streptococcus pneumoniae. There is also a 73% reduction in cases of pneumonia, 7% less acute ear infections, and a 20% drop in having to surgicaly insert tubes in children's ears. The reason the effectiveness of the vaccine against ear infections seems low is because there are many different factors that cause ear infections and this vaccine just protects against seven different bacterias that cause infections and unfortunately there are many different factors that cause ear infections.
The PCV immunization is considered effective for at least three years. However, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), "the overall longterm effectiveness of Prevnar is still unknown."
Is it worth it?
- Possible serious reactions to the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV): It was licensed on February 17, 2000. According to the CDC - in a case study of 6000 doses - 25% of children had redness and swelling where the shot was given, 33% had a fever under 100.4, and 2% had a fever over 102 degrees F. There are also reports of fussiness and drowsiness in infants. Like all immunizations, there is a risk of serious side effects because of allergic reactions. The more I looked for serious side effects from this vaccine, though, the more I began to realize that it was one of the safer vaccines available. I still feel comfortable with this vaccine even after reading the article "Study Shows Kids Vaccine Reaction Similar" on MSNBC.com that stated:
"In the first two years after the vaccine was used widely, researchers found 4,154 adverse events - among 31.5 million vaccine doses - had been reported to a national database. That amounts to 13.2 reports for every 100,000 doses of vaccine distributed. The majority of the time, children received multiple vaccine shots in a single setting.However, once you read on, Prevnar is dismissed from responsibilty for any of these scary side effects because the immunization was given at the same time as a mass of other vaccines. As I continue to research all of the different childhood immunizations, I have come to slowly realize that the best excuse and scapegoat the drug companies use is that children are given up to five different shots at one time. Who knows which vaccine made them sick or even killed them? Everyone is pointing to each other... to look at the brighter side - Prevnar seems to be one of the less harmful of the immunizations that children accross the world are being given everyday.
"Most complaints were minor - fever, swelling at the injection site, fussiness and rashes - and had been seen in earlier clinical trials. The 608 more serious events included 117 deaths and 34 instances in which children suffered invasive pneumococcal infections, hinting at vaccine failure."
- Possible serious reactions to the Streptococcus Pneumoniae Bacterial Infection: Pneumonia, Deafness, Brain Damage, Blood Infections, Baterial Menigitis, Ear Infections, Pneumococcous, and unfortunately even Death.
- People who should NOT get the Pneumococcal Conjugate vaccine: If your child has had a serious alergic reaction to any immunization prior to this, then you should talk avidly with your pediatrician to discuss the best plan of action. I have also been unable to get any clear list of the ingredients in this vaccine. Have your doctor explain what's in this immunization and be sure your child hasn't had any previous reaction to one of the ingredients. If you or your children have the flu or a cold when they’re scheduled to get any immunization, talk to your doctor about postponing it until everyone is completely recovered. It's always better to be 100% healthy before any immunization.
What if something goes wrong?
In the event your child has a vaccine-associated injury, or even if you think a vaccine might have caused a medical problem your child has, you should report the problem to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. Even if you are unsure if the reactions are caused by the vaccine it's still important to report it to Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. The more information given to them the better...one of the purposes of VAERS is to help researchers identify unknown side effects, or even to show that some reactions are not caused by vaccines.
You can also report a vaccine reaction to Vaccine Adverse Event Reaction System yourself. The toll-free information line is 1-800-822-7967. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is a federal program that offers compensation for the care of anyone believed to have been injured by vaccines. For more information, you can call the program toll-free at 1-800-338-2382.The most important question of our time...
As with any type of health related issue, there is a lot of conflict and heated debate on the subject of vaccinations. I would expect nothing less when our children’s health is the topic of discussion! Unfortunately, parents should be able to trust the initialed committees and associations that are specifically established to do the research and let the public know what is in the best interest of children and, dare I say it… in the best interest of society. However, that isn’t always the case when there’s money involved, and there are billions of dollars involved in vaccinations. Don’t kid yourself, there are drug companies tripping over each other to be able to provide countries with necessary vaccinations, and many are very necessary. The most important and still unanswered question of our time is - which vaccinations are necessary and which aren’t worth the risk of the potentially horrific side effects? Will parents and doctors be able to sift through all of the information and propaganda to find the answer? If so, will it happen in my child’s lifetime?
Still have questions?
Call the CDC National Immunization Hotline at: (800) 232-2522. This is a government funded organization that’s full of information and you can ask any vaccine question you can think of. Write down your questions and call as much as you need to. If the first person you talk to can’t answer your question, then ask them who can. They’re up-to-date with all the latest news and headlines. These are our tax dollars at work here so feel free to use them! If you want to know the latest headlines regarding any immunization, I recommend just doing a quick search on your favorite news site.
- CDC's National Immunization Program
- Vaccine Adverse Event Reaction System 1-800-822-7967
- FDA - 1-800-835-4709 & 1-888-463-6332
- Search the FDA website
- Kids Health
- An article from MSNBC that talks about the adverse reations of Prevnar.
There is alot of conflicting information about vaccinations these days and everyone seems to have a different oppinion! I did my best to look for all sides of the story but, please remember that I'm not a doctor and nothing in this article should ever be taken as a replacement for true medical advice from your pediatrician. Keep good communication with your child's doctor and keep in mind that no matter what the question is... it's always worth asking.
Want to know more about vaccines?
Look in our Health & Safety Archives.