Weak immune system? Consider pneumococcal vaccine

January 17, 2018

Drs. Juthaporn Cowan and Dr. Bill Cameron hope that their research will convince Canadians and their healthcare providers of the importance of the pneumococcal vaccine, especially for adults with weakened immune systems. Invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) is a serious infection of the blood or brain that affects about 3,000 Canadians every year, and about 1 in 5 affected people die. A routine vaccine for babies, the elderly and high-risk adults has been offered for more than a decade, but most adults have not received it. The research team looked at the medical records of all adults diagnosed with IPD at The Ottawa Hospital between 2013 and 2015. Of those they were able to measure, nearly a third had weakened immune systems (low antibody level) before their diagnosis, often linked to cancer or another chronic condition. The majority of these people had not received the pneumococcal vaccine. These findings show the need for vaccination and possibly antibody replacement therapy for at-risk populations. The team’s next steps are to find out how well the vaccine works in patients with weakened immune systems, and how cancer treatment might affect the vaccine response. See Clinical Infectious Diseases for details.

Authors: Juthaporn Cowan, Thuy Linh Do, Sacha Desjardins, Karamchand Ramotar, Vicente Corrales-Medina, Donald William Cameron

Funders: This study received no dedicated funding, but researchers at The Ottawa Hospital are supported by generous donations to The Ottawa Hospital for Research to Improve Patient Care.

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