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Vaccine Could Prevent Deaths, Save Costs in Flu Pandemic

Posted Nov 02 2008 1:06pm

A new predictive model shows that vaccinating infants with 7 valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7) — the current recommendation — not only saves lives and money during a normal flu season by preventing related bacterial infections; it also would prevent more than 357,000 deaths during an influenza pandemic, while saving $7 billion in costs.

Keith P. Klugman, PhD, professor of global health at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, presented results of the research using the predictive model at the joint ICAAC/IDSA meeting in Washington, DC, Oct. 25-28. (ICAAC/IDSA is the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy/Infectious Disease Society of America).

Bacterial infections, particularly pneumococcal disease, can follow a viral illness such as flu and cause secondary infections that worsen flu symptoms and increase influenza-related risk. Bacterial infections may have been the cause of nearly half of the deaths of young soldiers during the 1918 flu pandemic.

“We’ve known for years that bacterial infections can develop after influenza,” says Klugman. “Unlike the 1918 flu pandemic, which preceded the antibiotic era, we now have vaccines that can prevent these types of pneumococcal infections. This model shows what a dramatically different outcome we could expect with standard PCV vaccination.”

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