November 12, 2020
Pneumonia Concern Heightens amid Flu Season and Global Pandemic
Pneumococcal Vaccine—Why it’s important to get vaccinated now more than ever
What is Pneumococcal Pneumonia and why do I care?
Contrary to what you have probably heard your entire life, pneumonia is not a cold or the flu, but a potentially dangerous lung disease that forces roughly 150,000 people into hospitalization each year and contributes to about 3,500 annual deaths in the U.S. alone. Those rising numbers are certainly intimidating, but even more so are the less than glamorous symptoms that ride along with the disease. Chest pain, difficulty breathing, extreme fatigue and a high fever will leave you wishing you washed your hands a few extra times. Not only has pneumonia been a diagnosis on the rise for years, but it has also gained extensive publicity since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and flu season. Dr. Roy St. John, one of Aventiv’s Principal Investigators adds, “It is important for at-risk people to get a pneumonia vaccine to reduce their risk of getting a common cause of bacterial pneumonia (Pneumococcal pneumonia), which can cause significant morbidity and mortality. There are 2 vaccines available for Pneumococcal pneumonia: Prevnar 13 (protects against 13 of the most common strains) and Pneumovax 23 (protects against 23 of the most common strains). Prevnar 13 is indicated for babies and is given at age 2, 4, 6, and 12-15 months. It can also be given to adults age 65+ once. Pneumovax 23 is given to at-risk adults once or twice. At-risk adults include anyone age 65+, or patients with chronic diseases like COPD.”
Pneumonia linked to the Flu and Covid-19?
While we are all less acquainted with pneumonia, the flu is something that plagues us every year as we hobble to a nearby clinic for a flu shot. Pneumonia is the flu’s less famous sister, but they are certainly in the same family of illnesses that no one wants to contract. The flu is a contagious viral infection that has become the most popular in the Winter season, spreading among its victims mostly through coughs and sneezes. For at risk populations, influenza is a leading cause of pneumonia.
The pandemic has left many countries with a shortage of pneumonia vaccines, as healthcare providers seek to lessen the impact of the outbreak by vaccinating the elderly population and rationing remaining supplies. According to Fierce Pharma, Sanofi alone plans to ship out at least 80,000 flu vaccines this year, up from their 70,000 last year and efforts to create a Covid-19 vaccine are at an all time high. Dr. St. John adds, “It is even more important this year for people to get a pneumonia vaccine because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is well-known that there is an increased incidence of bacterial pneumonia after someone has a seasonal Influenza infection. It is not clear whether the same will hold true for people who get infected with COVID-19, but it is likely a good idea for them to get a pneumonia vaccine.”
Future Developments for Pneumonia
While you can do your part in protecting yourself, it has become a national health objective to increase vaccination levels, especially for the at risk populations. Aventiv Research is currently participating in a pneumococcal vaccine study at our Columbus, Ohio location. The primary objective of this clinical trial is to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of an investigational novel pneumococcal vaccine in healthy adults. We are currently enrolling healthy volunteers ages 50-84 years of age. You may contribute to improving the health of others and reducing the risk in your community. Our studies provide free medical care, and many provide monetary compensation for time and travel. To see if you qualify for this study please contact us for more information at 614-501-6164 or visit our website at www.aventivresearch.com.