Elderly people may not be getting vaccinated against streptococcus pneumonia, but they are still receiving protection in another way. Statistics show that the recent children’s pneumococcal vaccines are helping to protect the elderly as well. Thanks to something known as “the herd effect,” children aren’t spreading the disease around, so, as a result, elderly patients aren’t getting sick as often.
The vaccine has really helped control the levels of antibiotic-resistant strains of the illness so that when cases of pneumonia do pop up, they are likely to be treated with greater ease. One problem that doctors have been facing recently is that bacteria have been developing a resistance to the medical agents normally used to kill them. This resistance develops when a piece of bacteria is not killed off by the medication and it passes on to the next patient, breeding its superior genes.
By vaccinating children, cases of pneumonia aren’t developing in the first place, so the use of antibiotic agents is decreasing. Thus, bacteria are not spreading via genetic advancement as quickly. This spares many elderly patients the trouble of a difficult-to-treat case of pneumonia.
Everyone appears to be benefiting from the vaccines. Children are initially protected and in turn their parents and grandparents also have a reduced risk of having this disease transferred to them. This also helps protect elderly citizens in general.
This is especially important, because while the streptococcus pneumonia bug only causes ear infections and sinusitis in adults, it can cause life-threatening lung infections (pneumonia) in seniors and other people with weakened immune systems. Encourage your children and grandchildren to get the pneumococcal vaccine — for your health as well as theirs.