What is pneumococcal infection?

Pneumococcal infection generally refers to the disease caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae (or pneumococcus). Although pneumococcus usually only causes sinusitis and otitis media, it can also cause serious or even fatal invasive pneumococcal diseases, including pneumonia, septicemia and meningitis. The consequences of invasive pneumococcal disease are usually more serious in young children and the elderly.

How can people be infected by pneumococcus? How does pneumococcus spread?

Pneumococcus survives in humans. Pneumococcus is often found in the respiratory tract. Even healthy people can be carriers of pneumococcus. Pneumococcus can be transmitted directly through droplets or oral contact, or indirectly through contact with objects contaminated by respiratory tract particulates.

What is the incidence rate of invasive pneumococcal disease in Hong Kong?

Invasive pneumococcal disease is more common in young children and the elderly. From 2007 to 2014, the incidence rate of local diseases was 1.7 to 2.9 per 100,000 people. The incidence rate of the disease was higher in people under 5 years old and above 65 years old and above.

How to treat pneumococcal infection?

Pneumococcal infection is usually treated with antibiotics. Because of the increasing resistance of the pathogen to antibiotics, prevention of pneumococcal infection is more important than treatment.

How to prevent invasive pneumococcal disease?

Vaccination with pneumococcal vaccine is one of the most effective ways to prevent pneumococcal diseases. You should also maintain good personal and environmental hygiene habits, pay attention to balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate rest and refrain from smoking.

Who should be vaccinated against pneumococcus?

The Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventive Diseases recommends that children under the age of two be vaccinated with pneumococcal conjugate vaccine under the Hong Kong Children’s Immunization Programme. Three doses of basic needles were inoculated at 2, 4 and 6 months respectively, and one dose of reinforcement was inoculated at 12-15 months.
High-risk groups, aged 2 to 64, should be vaccinated with a 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and a 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine at least 2 months or 6 to 12 months later. For those who have been vaccinated with 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine should be vaccinated at least one year later.
For people aged 65 and over, the Scientific Committee recommends a dose of 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine or a dose of 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine. For those with additional high risk, the doctor’s clinical judgment may be used to consider whether to vaccinate pneumococcal vaccine again five years after the first vaccination.

What are the possible reactions to pneumococcal vaccination?

The pneumococcal vaccine has been proved safe. Common adverse reactions include temporary mild swelling and pain at the vaccination site after vaccination. Local reactions are more likely to occur after the second dose, but most reactions will subside naturally within a few days without requiring treatment.

Who is not suitable for pneumococcal vaccination?

If severe allergic reactions to pneumococcal vaccines or to components of the vaccines have occurred, the vaccination should not be continued.

Can pregnant women and breast-feeding be vaccinated with pneumococcal vaccine?

The safety of pneumococcal vaccines during pregnancy is unclear. It is not clear whether the vaccine will be excreted through breast milk. Therefore, if women want to be vaccinated with pneumococcal vaccine, they should complete it as soon as possible before pregnancy.