Last year, in observance of World Pneumonia Day, Cynthia Whitney, Branch Chief for Respiratory Diseases in the Division of Bacterial Diseases (DBD) and I co-authored a commentary for the CDC Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases in which we urged the global community to consider the massive problems of pneumonia and to take a moment to consider what we each could do to help solve the problem of pneumonia claiming far too many children. Indeed 2013 has been a very busy year for all committed in the fight against pneumonia—which is part of an urgent and historic global effort to save lives and improve health for millions of women, newborns, and children outlined in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG).
The National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases’ (NCIRD) DBD leads the agency’s pneumonia activities by engaging in research and promoting best practices that address pneumonia everywhere.
Through DBD staff collaboration with partners here at CDC and globally with health care providers, researchers, policy makers, and the greater public health community, we are seeing progress toward reducing disease and deaths due to pneumonia. DBD works with the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)—which provides advice and guidance to CDC’s Director regarding vaccine use and related agents for control of vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States—and was front and center during the Committee’s meetings this year. Our scientists’ research helped inform the ACIP recommendation on pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) for immunocompromised children aged 6-18 years. PCV13 covers 13 pneumococcal serotypes which cause the majority of pneumococcal infections in young children. DBD’s research demonstrated an 88% decline in PCV13-type pneumococcal disease among children less than five years of age in the United States, and 45-65% decline in other age groups due to herd immunity. This year, we completed studies of PCV effectiveness against invasive pneumococcal disease in South Africa and Uruguay and completed the review of vaccine schedules to guide global policy makers adopting PCV into childhood immunization programs. The findings of this comprehensive analysis support the use of either 3 or 4 dose schedules of PCV, and will be published in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal in the next few months. We continue to collaborate with partners to assess the effectiveness of PCV in the United States and select developing countries.