In the year 1881. Louis Pasteur first isolated the pneumococcus bacterium from the saliva of a rabies-infected patient. Friedlander in 1883, discovered and proved the association between pneumococcus and pneumonia. In 1940, further studies revealed that there are more than 80 different strains of the pneumococcus. Then later on the entire biological nature of the bacterium was discovered. Along with it the chemical nature of the structure and the role of the polysaccharide capsule of the bacteria in conferring virulence was discovered. These studies focused on the potential of pneumococcus as a potent antigen. Here, we will tell you why we need Pneumonia Vaccine and how it keeps us safe.
Streptococcus pneumoniae are gram-positive bacteria. They are mostly facultative anaerobes. These bacterias occur in the diplococcus state. The virulence factor is encoded in the polysaccharide capsule of the bacteria. The complex polysaccharide capsules account for their antigenicity. The natural antibodies that are produced in the body against these bacterias work for their clearing by opsonization and subsequent phagocytosis.
These bacterias mainly reside in the body fluids of infected individuals. Cerebrospinal fluid, saliva of infected individuals are the common sites where these have been found. They also remain in the form of vicious colonies in the upper respiratory tract of the infected individual.
Pneumococcus – the potential villain
Pneumococcus not only causes pneumoniae but a host of other dreaded diseases like meningitis and bacteremia. Out of these, pneumonia is the most common one. Symptoms of pneumonia include fever, chills. Shakes and rigors are secondary symptoms. The excessive production of mucus by the mucopleurant cells, shortness of breath, hypoxia, dyspnea, tachypnea are a set of closely associated primary symptoms. Other than these, there are a few tertiary symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.
Pneumococcal pneumonia also causes empyema (pleural cavity infection), endobronchial obstructions, inflammation of pericardium around the heart(pericarditis). Abscess formation in lungs, severe respiratory problems. These stand as the main reasons of the majority of hospitalizations in relation to pneumococcus pneumonia
Bacteremia and meningitis are also not uncommon. It can be easily diagnosed by conducting a CSF profile test. Nausea, vomiting, shakes, and rigors are commonly associated symptoms. The symptoms start appearing after a bodily incubation period of 3 days
Victims of pneumococcus
Children are worst affected by the pneumococcus due to their underdeveloped immunity framework. Infection of the ears or scientifically termed acute otitis media is the mist dreaded pneumococcal infection mainly spotted in children. The same logic also applies to elderly persons being the next most vulnerable victims of pneumococcus
Pneumococcal infection can be easily diagnosed with the laboratory investigation of a body fluid sample of the suspected individuals. In case there arises a problem in distinguishing the pneumococci, immunochromatographic techniques can be employed to identify the specific membrane characteristics including the polysaccharide capsule
Discovery and legalization of the vaccine
Pneumonia caused by streptococcus pneumoniae is indeed a dreaded disease. You can get protection from this disease by getting vaccinated against it. The very first vaccine against pneumococcus was permitted in the United States around the year 1977. The first-ever conjugate vaccine for pneumonia was permitted legally in the year 2000.
When penicillin was discovered, the craze for all other medicines declined. This was certainly due to the remarkable properties of penicillin to cure almost all the diseases that the world knew to be dreaded until then. But eventually, after some time, it came up that penicillin was not being able to cure all diseases and death was still occurring.
Types of pneumonia vaccine
The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) and the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) can protect human beings against getting infected by pneumococcal infections.
The suffixes 13 and 23 in the name of the vaccines indicate the number of strains of bacteria against which they provide immunity. The benefits of the vaccine are actually dual. They prevent infection in the immunized person as well as puts a brake to the spreading of the infection to others.
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine
PCV 13 vaccine is considered as the primary vaccine which is administered. It is known as the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. PCV is administered in accordance with age determined immunization schedules. It is mainly effective for children and considerably reduces their chances of being either a carrier or a victim of the pneumococcal infection. It is actually the pneumonia vaccine for babies. This is included in the list of the basic vaccines for neonates that are compulsory
4 injections at the ages of 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12 months (BOOSTER DOSE) form the entire course of this vaccine. This is the normal course. Apart from this at the age of 2 years, kids with a lung or cardiac disease might be provided with another injection of the same vaccine to improvise their befallen immunity status. It is the most effective vaccine for children. This vaccine is around 45 percent effective for elderly people who are down with pneumococcal infections. PCV vaccine provides immunization against 13 known pneumococcal strains by generating appropriate antibodies against them.
This vaccine produces a type 2 helper T cells that provide an acute and robust immunity against pneumococcus. Moreover, this vaccine also leads to the release of memory B cells. These memory cells confer lifelong immunity from pneumococci
There are instances when all four doses may not be provided. It completely depends upon two factors- the age at which the first dose of PCV 13 was administered and the current age of the child.
Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine
PPSV 23 is kind of conferring an extra added immunity against streptococcus pneumoniae. Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is the better-suited name for this vaccine. The attenuated antigens lead to antibody generation within 2 to 3 weeks of administration. However, the immunity conferred by this vaccine diminishes in potency after around 5 to 10 years. So, there is a need for revaccination.
The polysaccharide vaccine leads to the activation of B-cells and the subsequent release of the IgM type of antibody that mediates further immunity. The B-cells work in assistance with the T cells. Therefore, both humoral and cell-mediated immunity are involved in the working mechanism of this vaccine
This injection can be given any time between 2 to 18 years of the individual, as recommended by the doctor. This vaccine is mostly administered to kids who are suffering any disease that has already slayed their immunity system (e.g.—HIV AIDS). Also, kids who have undergone any kind of implantation need the PPSV 23 to remain protected from external infection possibilities.
The zone at risk
The major risk zone people who are most vulnerable towards developing an infection from streptococcus pneumoniae are the kids below 2 years and the elderly people above 65 years. People who have not received any immunizations through these vaccines are very likely to get seriously infected with pneumoniae that might end up in hospitalizations with fatal consequences.
Pneumococcal infection is extremely common in young children but the elderly who are 60 years or above are at the potential risk of developing the same.
Pneumonia vaccine kind of guarantees you’re staying away from pneumoniae. But even if you catch the disease, the probability is that it won’t affect you as deeply as an unimmunized individual. People mostly get concerned about kids, but adults above 65 years must also mandatorily take the vaccine. If any individual is down with any disorder like cardio disorders, diabetes, emphysema, asthma or COPD, then they will most likely be affected by pneumoniae.
When should you avoid the pneumonia vaccine?
PCV and PPSV pneumonia vaccines are pretested and do not cause any such deadly consequence upon being administered. However, the kids might be a bit uncomfortable just after the administration of the vaccine. There might be a little redness, itchiness, and pain due to the injection. However, this is very normal and the symptom dissolves shortly.
The incidence of developing a fever is not uncommon. But these are immediate responses and not at all fatal. Due to the penetration of the syringe into the tender skin and tissue, the child might develop the aforesaid symptoms. Very rarely a little extent of allergy might accompany the vaccine administration.
However, if the condition worsens then you might consult with the doctor once. Paracetamol or IBrufen can cure the symptoms readily. Severe allergy or extremely high body temperatures can be reasons for worry and calls for urgent medical support.
The vaccines should be administered at the proper time. But suppose the child is suffering from any other disorder at that time, then under suitable medical supervision, the vaccine can be delayed. If the child has developed any other type of illness from any previous vaccine injections, then also it is better to delay the pneumoniae vaccines.
Are you a vulnerable victim of pneumococcus?
- Drinkers are also at the potential risk of developing pneumoniae infection. Alcohol collapses the immunity system, kills the white blood cells of the body. this destroys the basic framework of a healthy immune system.
- Severe injury or prior instances of hospitalizations are definitely a great pavement for streptococcus pneumoniae to
- People receiving chemotherapy, have undergone any transplantation then your risk of getting pneumoniae infection is far greater. All potential smokers are really on the verge on developing a potential pneumoniae infection. The lungs constitute a good repertoire of infection-fighting cells that a smoker damages by heavy smoking. So, the filtration of germs at the respiratory level gets completely disrupted.
- People receiving chemotherapy, have undergone any transplantation then your risk of getting pneumoniae infection is far greater. All potential smokers are really on the verge of developing a potential pneumoniae infection. The lungs constitute a good repertoire of infection-fighting cells that a smoker damages by heavy smoking. So, the filtration of germs at the respiratory level gets completely disrupted.
Communicability of the disease
The extent of the infection is largely dependent upon the organ that is infected. The carriers of the bacteria usually carry it in their throat. They spread it through air droplets or sneezing. Pneumonia is actually a bacterial infection that causes fever, leads to coughing and extreme infection of the respiratory tract. Pneumoniae infections cause a large amount of deaths, even in developed countries. The major number of deaths in individuals are reasons for being not vaccinated. Had they been given proper doses of vaccine at the proper time the number of deaths would have been far less.
The vaccine induces the production of antibodies in the body that can resist the invasion of antigens (streptococcus pneumoniae). However, the people who are hypersensitive towards the specific prior doses of the vaccine must avoid this. The authenticity of the vaccine on pregnant women is still under study. Therefore, it is still not strictly recommended to administer pneumoniae vaccine under pregnancy conditions.
Pneumonia vaccine side effects
The most common dangers of the pneumonia vaccine are the following:
- Redness and inflammation at the point of injection
- Pain, soreness. Heat and lump at the site of injection
- Fever (mild to severe)
- Skin rashes
- Fatigue, lightheadedness, vision changes, and numbing sensation might occur
- Severe weakness
- Muscle and joint pain
- Stiffness of the arm or leg where the vaccine was injected
- Skin rashes
- Severe dizziness and trouble in breathing
- Extreme allergic reactions
Most of the side effects are normally short-lived and dissolve within a few days. However, they might persist for longer in a few cases, in such cases the consultation of the doctor is necessary.
The most common side effects of the PPSV23 pneumonia vaccine are the local reactions which include pain, redness, swelling and lump formation of the site of injection. These symptoms prevail for a maximum of 48 hours.
The PCV 13 type of pneumonia vaccine also causes similar types of specific symptoms. There are a host of nonspecific symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, and loss of appetite that follows the administration of this vaccine.