Last week I tackled the pneumonia and this week I will shed more light on it. Why the emphasis? Pneumonia is the single largest cause of death in children, more than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. With reported increasing resistance to common bacteria, as reported last week by the World Health Organisation, the need for vaccination has never been greater. A vaccine has now been developed against pneumonia, which is available on the Kenyan market as synflorix (PCV 10) and Prevnar 13(PCV13) conjugate vaccine. The conjugate vaccine (where both synflorix and Prevnar fall) is recommended for use in preventing pneumococcal disease in infants and young children. It is given as a shot in arm or leg muscle at six, ten and 14 weeks of age, alongside the routine pentavalent vaccines, while a booster dose can be given between 15 to 18 months. You will have to pay separately for these vaccines, because they are not available in the free vaccine schedule by the government. Though it is recommended that all infants beginning at two months of age receive the three doses of synflorix vaccine, catch-up vaccination is recommended for children younger than age five years who did not receive the vaccine on schedule. Older children can be given the pneumococcal PCV13 vaccine, especially those aged six through 18 years who are at increased risk for pneumococcal disease because of sickle cell disease, HIV infection, or other immune-compromising condition. The question is what if your child is older than 18 months and never got his pneumococcal vaccine shots? The number of doses a child needs to complete the series depends on his or her current age. Older children need fewer doses. For example, a healthy unvaccinated child age 24 to 59 months needs a single dose of conjugate vaccine PCV13. Your healthcare provider can tell you how many doses are needed to complete the series at a certain age. These vaccines are very safe. Can the vaccine cause pneumococcal disease? No. These are inactivated vaccines containing only a portion of the microbe.
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