Health Groups Recommend Return to Full
Four-Dose Routine Schedule for Pediatric
Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (Prevnar®)
Public health and physician groups today recommended that healthcare providers resume the full four-dose routine vaccination schedule for Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV7), marketed by Wyeth Vaccines under the trade name Prevnar®. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Academy of Pediatrics made the decision to return to the full, four-dose schedule because production capacity has increased and vaccine supply is now sufficient to meet national demand.
The vaccine can help prevent serious pneumococcal diseases, such as meningitis and blood infections, which in some cases are fatal. Invasive pneumococcal disease is the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in the United States. Children under two years of age are at highest risk. Before a vaccine was available, pneumococcal infection caused more than 700 cases of meningitis, 13,000 blood infections and about 5 million ear infections yearly.
Production problems earlier this year caused shortages of the vaccine that prompted the health groups to reduce the recommended four doses to two doses in March for healthy children. In July, vaccine supplies became adequate to increase the number of doses administered to healthy children from two to three. Supplies are now adequate to allow a return to the full, four-dose routine schedule.
“CDC has worked closely with the manufacturer to continually monitor the situation and manage limited supplies of the vaccine. The manufacturer has assured CDC that PCV7 supplies are now adequate and healthcare providers should return to the full schedule,” said Dr. Steve Cochi, acting director of the CDC National Immunization Program.
The recommended four-dose schedule for young children includes: one dose each at 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months of age, and one dose between 12 and 15 months of age.
The health groups also recommended a catch-up schedule for those children who missed vaccinations during the shortage. Parents of healthy children who missed doses of PVC7 during the shortage should contact their healthcare provider about catch-up vaccination.
For a complete catch-up schedule, use the following web address: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/wk/mm5336.pdf. The highest priority for catch-up vaccination is children under five years of age at high risk for invasive pneumococcal disease who are not yet fully vaccinated. Those at high risk for invasive pneuomococcal disease include children with sickle cell disease, chronic illnesses, or who are immunosuppressed including those with human immunodeficiciency virus infection (HIV).