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The pneumococcal vaccine for children is proving to be highly effective against the spread of pneumonia and associated conditions, according to a new report from the HSE.

 

The vaccine protects against seven serotypes of the pneumococcal disease and is given in three doses to infants under the age of 13 months.

 

The pneumococcal vaccine was added to the national immunisation schedule in 2008, and since then there has been a 90 percent fall in cases of the illness caused by seven serotypes covered by the vaccine, rising to 100 percent among children under five years.

 

There has, however, been an increase in cases caused by other strains of the illness not covered by the vaccine, which means the overall reduction in the burden of the disease is 20 percent, according to the report by the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

 

The report also noted that the current reductions seen in Ireland since the introduction of the vaccine have been noted in other European countries also, according to The Irish Times.

 

 

Pneumonia is a lung infection which mainly affects the alveoli or air sacs inside the lung. Sufferers may experience a persistent dry cough, fever and difficulty breathing.

 

Pneumonia is caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumonia. There are over 90 different types of this bacteria, and it can be spread by sneezing, coughing and close contact.

 

Children suffering from pneumonia often display symptoms such as fever, shaking chills, cough, stuffy nose, very fast breathing, making grunting or wheezing noises, loss of appetite or poor feeding, chest pain, abdominal pain and visible difficulty breathing.

 

It can be life-threatening to babies, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems. Pneumococcal pneumonia is a leading cause of childhood mortality, with approximately one million children worldwide under the age of five dying from pneumonia annually, according to the HSE.

 

It is important to seek medical help if your child is displaying these symptoms, as complications can develop if left untreated.

 

More information about the pneumonia vaccine can be found here. If you have any questions about immunisation or pneumonia, seek your doctor’s advice.

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