Singapore Becomes First Asian Country To Receive New Pneumococcal Vaccine

Singapore will be the first country in Asia to get Pfizer’s new pneumococcal vaccine. The vaccine has a wider range of protection and can replace the 2 currently used vaccines. Vaccines protect against the more common strain of bacteria responsible for pneumococcal disease, which can cause a variety of infections including pneumonia, meningitis, and sinus and middle ear infections. It can even cause very severe illness to death.

Pneumonia or pneumonia is the third leading cause of death in Singapore. These vaccines don’t protect against all causes of pneumonia, as they can be caused by a wide variety of germs including other types of bacteria, viruses, or even fungi. However, they can protect against the more common strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, which is why the government encourages and subsidizes pneumococcal vaccination for children and the elderly in Singapore.

For the elderly, the recommendation is to get the pneumococcal conjugate PCV13 vaccine first and a year later followed by the pneumococcal polysaccharide PPSV23 vaccine. The new vaccine, PCV20 covers 7 more strains of bacteria than PCV13, which is also produced by Pfizer. PPSV23 is made by Merck Sharp & Dohme and includes 23 types of bacteria.

Unlike polysaccharide vaccines, conjugate vaccines make the body produce antibodies protecting against infection, prime T cells, and memory B cells, which can mount a response against invasive bacteria even after the level of antibodies has waned. Professor Ooi Eng Eong, a microbiologist at the Duke-NUS Medical School, also said the immune responses from a conjugate vaccine “would theoretically be broader and more lasting than what is elicited by polysaccharides alone”.

Dr. Asok Kurup, the chair of the Chapter of Infectious Disease Physicians, concurs that the PCV20’s broader coverage may only require a single dose for the vast majority of people, he still believes that those who are at higher risk, such as those who are immunocompromised, should receive the PPSV23 as well because it covers more strains.

Following the National Adult Immunization Schedule, persons who have been advised to obtain the PCV13 and PPSV vaccines are encouraged to do so, according to a MOH spokesman. Children cannot currently use the PCV20. According to the infectious diseases specialists ST spoke with, those who have had the two pneumococcal vaccines do not also need to obtain the PCV20.

 Source: ANN Asia News Network

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