France's Commitment to Vaccination Will Help the Audrey Association in its Battle to Save Children from Health Risks Associated with Pneumococcal Meningitis

SICILY, Italy -- At the European Society for Pediatric Infectious Diseases (ESPID) today, Jimmy Voisine, president of the Audrey Association, announced his support for the recent French decision to reimburse the vaccine which helps fight against pneumococcal meningitis. This form of meningitis is less well known than other types of meningitis, yet represents a major threat to infants and young children around the world.

The approval and reimbursement of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine to help protect against serious childhood diseases caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae represents a significant step toward reducing disease burden, especially among children younger than 2 years of age. The broad range of children who will be eligible for reimbursement in France will virtually eliminate financial barriers to vaccinating infants, those who are at greater risk than others, against this disease.

"Families can now more freely decide to protect their children against pneumococcal meningitis, bloodstream infections, bacteremic pneumonia and other infections caused by invasive pneumococcal disease," added Voisine. "It would be helpful if other European countries could make a similar commitment to protecting their children against this serious pathogen."

S. pneumoniae is the leading cause of death due to community acquired bacterial infection among children younger than 2 years of age, as well as the leading cause of bacterial meningitis within the first two years of life. Major symptoms of pneumococcal meningitis include fever, chills, headache, vomiting, stiff neck, shortness of breath and decreased hearing. These symptoms are similar to those of other childhood illnesses and make it difficult for parents, daycare center employees and sometimes even professionals to make a timely diagnosis of the disease. Due to the disease's rapid progression, treatment is recommended as early as possible to help prevent complications. Prevention through vaccination may be the best method of protection against brain damage, hearing loss or death.

Vaccination with the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine also may help reduce the use of antibiotics, which are a first line therapy for managing the disease once it is diagnosed. This in turn can help limit antibiotic resistance. When used in a four-dose regimen (three doses administered within the first year of life and a booster dose within the second), this vaccine is both safe and effective at preventing invasive pneumococcal disease. The impact of this protection may also help reduce laboratory diagnostic procedures, physician visits and hospital admissions among vaccinated children.

Source: Audrey Association