Bacterial meningitis tends to be more serious than other forms of meningitis and may lead to brain damage, blindness, deafness, and even death for children under age 5 -- and pneumococcal infections are the second-most common cause of bacterial meningitis in children (meningococcal infection is the first).
The pneumococcal vaccine is very effective at reducing your child's risk of contracting this serious infection. Research by the CDC found that the vaccine prevents 96 percent of pneumococcal disease in healthy children under age 5. It also found that the vaccine is highly effective at preventing tough-to-treat cases caused by antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. And a recent study found that rates of pneumococcal disease in children under 5 have dropped by nearly 80 percent in the years since the vaccine Prevnar was introduced. Additionally, the pneumococcal vaccine has been shown to help prevent ear infections and reduce the need for ear tubes.
Sources: Paul Offit, MD, Chief of Infectious Diseases at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania and a member of the American Baby magazine advisory board member. Michael T. Brady, MD, the Vice Chair of the AAP's Committee on Infectious Diseases. Medline Plus: a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health section on Pneumococcal Vaccination. CDC sections on Pneumococcal Disease and Pneumococcal Vaccination.
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