- (CNN) - In what researchers say may be the decade's
most important health advance for children, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) advisory panel is expected to approve a new type of vaccine proven
to fight deadly infections that often start as simple ear infections.
- The FDA advisory committee is expected to recommend approval
of the pneumococcal vaccine this week. The vaccine protects children from
a type of bacteria that leads to pneumococcal disease, the most common
cause of ear infections in children.
- While the vaccine does not protect against all ear infections,
studies show it reduced the occurrence of infections.
- If approved, it would be given by injection at two, four
and six months of age, with booster shots at a year and 15 months.
- In clinical studies children who received the vaccine
were 22 percent less likely to have frequent bouts of ear infections and
20 percent less likely to need ear tube surgery.
- Most parents don't realize pneumococcal disease can also
cause meningitis, an inflammation of the tissue and fluid surrounding the
brain and spinal canal, and bacteremia, a severe blood stream infection.
The vaccine is 100 percent effective against these two rare conditions.
- Although the vaccine would be a major advance, it is
not perfect. There are over 80 types of pneumococcus and this vaccine covers
- "But those seven types are responsible for about
85 percent of severe diseases and about 65 percent of middle ear infections,
so it will help enormously, but it's not going to eliminate all pneumococcal
infections," said Dr. Margaret Rennells of the University of Maryland
- If the vaccine is approved by the FDA, as expected, the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is likely to recommend
it for use in all healthy children. It would be given to infants and toddlers
during their routine vaccinations and would be available to children up
to age five.